Claiming compensation from us

If the Department has made an error that has caused you a financial loss or some other detriment, you might be able to make a claim for compensation.

Types of compensation

Compensation can be claimed for loss suffered as a result of one of the following:

  • legal liability
  • special circumstance arising out of Commonwealth administration.
  • defective administration.

If you are making a complaint and seeking compensation from the Department regarding the importation and/or exportation of goods, please complete the online feedback form. All claims of this kind must initially be made using this form. However, if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your feedback, it remains open to you to lodge a subsequent application for discretionary compensation.

Compensation for legal liability

We might assess your claim and pay compensation in line with the Legal Services Directions 2017, where there is a meaningful prospect that we could be found liable to pay compensation if the matter went to court.

It is open to you to seek independent legal advice if you think that your circumstances might give rise to a claim that raises issues of potential legal liability.

Act of Grace payment

Act of Grace is administered by the Department of Finance. The Department's role is to provide information to the Department of Finance for consideration. If the Finance Minister or delegate considers it appropriate to do so because of special circumstances, an Act of Grace payment may be paid to people who have been unintentionally disadvantaged by the effects of Australian Government legislation, actions or omissions.

You can read more about Act of Grace payments and find a claim form on the Department of Finance's website.

All claims for Act of Grace payments should be lodged with the Department of Finance, using the application form found on their website.

Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (the CDDA Scheme)

The CDDA Scheme allows us to compensate you if you have been adversely affected by defective administration on the part of the Department and where no legal liability exists. Payments made under the CDDA Scheme are discretionary and can be made where it is considered fair and reasonable to do so where there is no other redress available.

The overarching principle of the CDDA Scheme is to restore you to the position you would have been in had the defective administration not occurred. Compensation is not payable for grief, anxiety, hurt, humiliation, embarrassment, or disappointment that is unrelated to personal injury, no matter how intense the emotion might be.

In order for your claim to be successful under the CDDA Scheme, the decision maker must be satisfied that:

  • there was defective administration by us;
  • the loss or detriment suffered was a direct result of our defective administration and this can be substantiated by you;
  • the type of detriment suffered by you must have been reasonably foreseeable by us.

Defective administration is defined as any of the following:

  • a specific and unreasonable lapse in complying with existing administrative procedures;
  • an unreasonable failure to institute appropriate administrative procedures;
  • giving advice to (or for) an applicant that was, in all the circumstances, incorrect or ambiguous;
  • an unreasonable failure to give to (or for) an applicant, the proper advice that was within the official's power and knowledge to give (or reasonably capable of being obtained by the official to give).

Applying for compensation under the CDDA scheme

If you would like to make a claim for compensation under the CDDA scheme, you should complete the CDDA application form 1459 (148KB PDF).

You can send the completed application form and supporting documentation by post, email or fax.

Civil Litigation and Compensation Section
Department of Home Affairs
PO Box 25
Belconnen ACT 2616

Fax: 02 6264 1401

We recommend that you keep a copy of your application and all attachments for your records. The Department does not retain copies of documents. If you wish to keep original documents, you should only provide copies of documents to the Department. The Department does not accept physical evidence in support of claims.

You will receive an acknowledgement letter from us within seven working days of receipt of your claim. Claims are processed in order of receipt. We cannot provide a definite date for completion of claims; however, you will be kept informed of the progress of your claim.

In some circumstances, we, or the Commonwealth Ombudsman might invite you to apply for compensation under either the CDDA Scheme or Act of Grace.

An invitation to apply for compensation does not constitute an admission of liability, nor does it guarantee that compensation will be paid.

Receiving a decision

You will be notified in writing of the outcome of your claim. 

Further assistance

For further information about the CDDA Scheme please see the Department of Finances website.