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Declarations of coverage

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

A declaration confirms that a piece of legislation applies or does not apply to a specific ship.


In the Seacare scheme, declarations can be made by the Minister or by the Seacare Authority in relation to the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act) and the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 (OHS(MI) Act).

A declaration is made for a specified period of time, after which it must be renewed or it ceases to be active.

Ministerial declarations of coverage

Declaring a ship to be prescribed

The Minister can declare a ship to be a prescribed ship, under section 3A(1) of the Seafarers Act.

There are currently no declarations under section 3A(1).

Declaring a ship not to be prescribed

The Minister can declare a ship not to be a prescribed ship, under section 3A(2) of the Seafarers Act.

There are currently two declarations under section 3A(2).

Prescribed ship – intra-state trade

Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation (Prescribed Ship – Intra-State Trade) Declaration 2017 (Intra-State Trade Declaration).

Commenced on 15 June 2017 and will sunset on 1 October 2027.

On 22 December 2014, a Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia unanimously decided in the case of Samson Maritime Pty Ltd v Noel Aucote [2014] FCAFC 182 (Aucote decision) that the Seacare scheme applied to all employees of a trading, financial or foreign corporation.

The Aucote decision substantially changed the way the Seacare Authority interpreted coverage within the Australian maritime industry. In particular, ships and their employees engaged in intra-state trade only - historically considered to be covered by state workers' compensation and work health and safety laws - were seen to be covered by the Commonwealth Seacare scheme by this decision.

In response to the Aucote decision, the Australian Government introduced the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (Amendment Act) into Parliament. The Seacare Authority and Minister also granted declarations, including this declaration, and exemptions affecting the coverage of the Seacare scheme.

These actions were taken to:

  • limit the coverage of the Seacare scheme to what was broadly understood to be the case before the Aucote decision - that the Seacare scheme does not apply to ships engaged in intra-state trade and not engaged in interstate or international trade
  • provide certainty to the maritime industry regarding coverage of schemes.

Prescribed ship – Norfolk Island

Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation (Prescribed Ship – Norfolk Island) Declaration 2016.

Commenced on 1 July 2016 and will sunset on 1 October 2026.

Declares that ships which have the majority of the crew being Norfolk Island residents or which are operated by a Norfolk Island resident, firm or company not to be a prescribed ship.

Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) (Prescribed Ship or Unit — Intra-State Trade) Declaration 2017.

Commenced on 16 June 2017 and will sunset on 1 October 2027.

Declares that ships that are only engaged in intra-state trade are not prescribed ships or a prescribed unit for the purposes of the OHS(MI) Act.

Seacare Authority declarations of coverage

Declaring that an Act does or does not apply to a ship

The Seacare Authority may declare that the Seafarers Act or OHS(MI) Act do or do not apply to a certain ship, under sections 19 (1C) and (1D) of the Seafarers Act and sections 6 (3AB) and (3AC) of the (OHS(MI) Act).

There are currently no Seacare Authority declarations of coverage in effect.

How to apply for a declaration of coverage

Seacare Authority declarations are made in response to a written application.

To apply for a declaration of coverage, submit the relevant form to the Seacare Authority:

We have adopted guidelines which indicate the Seacare Authority’s general approach when considering applications for a declaration. These guidelines in no way limit the Seacare Authority’s discretion to grant a declaration. See Declarations by the Seacare Authority guidelines (PDF, 130.8 KB).

Page last reviewed: 19 April 2021
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Seacare
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.seacare.gov.au

Date printed 13 Jun 2021

https://www.seacare.gov.au/coverage-legislation/declarations-of-coverage