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Review of exemption factors under the Seafarers Act – invitation to make a submission (News)

The Seacare Authority is undertaking a review of its exemption guidelines and exemption factors under Section 20A of the Seafarers Act and invites scheme stakeholders to make a submission to the review.

Why are exemptions from Seafarers Act coverage provided for?

The Seafarers Act sets out the vessels to which it applies and the circumstances in which it applies.

However, there may be specific journeys or circumstances for which it may be inappropriate for the Act to apply and for this reason, the Act provides for exemptions to be granted by the Authority.

Why are we reviewing the exemption guidelines?

As part of an ongoing review of the exercise by the Authority of its functions under the Seafarers Act.

Key principles for the granting of an exemption

While the Authority has identified specific factors that it may consider in determining whether to grant an exemption, it will apply the following principles to all applications for exemption:

  • an exemption must not undermine the integrity or viability of the Seacare scheme; and
  • an exemption should not be granted if doing so would result in a worker being left without workers’ compensation protection.

What are the proposed changes?

Changes to guidelines

The Authority is seeking to clarify in its guidelines that an exemption will not be granted unless the Authority is satisfied that:

  • each employee who would otherwise be covered by the Act will be likely to be covered by other workers’ compensation arrangements (for example state or territory scheme) with the exemption removing operation of the Act and permitting the other arrangements to apply, and
  • the potential liability of the employer will be the subject of insurance cover or satisfactory self-insurance arrangements.

This requirement is to be met in all cases, in addition to the application of specific factors supporting the granting of an exemption.

Changes to exemption factors

The current exemption factors that may be applied under section 20A of the Act are set out in Table 1 below, with the proposed amendment for each factor. These are also provided in the Revised Seacare Authority exemption guidelines (as at 17 September 2020).

Table 1: Current and proposed exemption factors
Existing factorsProposed factorsRationale for change
The nature of the operations, voyage arrangements and physical attributes of the prescribed ship.

a) The prescribed ship’s proposed voyage or voyages do not constitute a regular trading pattern.

Factor to be removed.

This factor has been incorporated into the proposed new factor ‘a’ below.

b) The prescribed ship is expected to voyage between two places outside of Australia over a period of 12 months or more, majority crew not Australian residents.

No change – factor to remain as is.

Will become new factor ‘a’.


c) The voyages undertaken make the prescribed ship subject to the operations of the Seafarers Act are incidental to the primary   operations of the ship.

Replace with:

  • The prescribed ship’s proposed voyage does not constitute a regular trading pattern and is incidental to the primary operations of the ship
  • This will become new factor ‘b’.

Factor amended to clarify intent of exemption.

d) The prescribed ship is under 500 gross tonnes   (GT).

Factor to be removed

There is no legislative basis for jurisdiction based on the size of a vessel.

e) The prescribed ships operating within a territory only.

No change – factor to remain as is.

This will become new factor ‘c’.

Workers’ compensation

f) The availability of workers’ compensation insurance under a state or territory scheme, at a cost lower than that available under the Seacare scheme.

Any amendments to this factor would require the amendment or repeal of the current Ministerial Direction regarding cheaper insurance.

This will become new factor ‘d’.

The Seacare Authority notes that the legislative intent of Section 20A is to provide short term relief for voyages that do not constitute a regular trading pattern or are incidental to the primary operations of the ship.

Invitation to make a submission

The Seacare Authority is seeking submissions on the revised factors of exemption and exemption guidelines by 5 pm AEDT on Monday 16 November 2020.

Submissions will be considered by the Seacare Authority at its meeting of Thursday 26 November 2020.

Download the Revised Seacare Authority exemption guidelines (as at 17 September 2020) (PDF, 126.2 KB).

Submissions can be sent to or:

Section 20A Exemption
Seacare Authority
GPO Box 9905
Canberra ACT 2601

General information about exemptions under the Seacare scheme is available on the Coverage page.

If you wish to discuss the exemptions, please contact the Seacare Secretariat via email or phone 02 6275 0070.

Page last reviewed: 21 September 2020
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Date printed 19 Apr 2024