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Multiple vessel exemptions

These exemptions are made by the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority (the Seacare Authority) in exercise of the power conferred by section 20A of the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (the Seafarers Act). The current multiple vessel exemptions of own motion can be viewed below:

  1. Exemption – Multiple vessels
  2. Exemption – Multiple vessels, Domestic Commercial Vessels

Please note any information provided by the Seacare Authority about coverage is intended as a guide only. There are many factors which affect coverage and stakeholders are encouraged to seek their own legal advice about coverage.

What are the multiple vessel exemptions?

The multiple vessel exemptions are exemptions which are granted at the Seacare Authority’s own motion to employment on a large number of vessels. The exemptions have lists (schedules) of ship names attached to them and exempt employment on any listed ships from the scheme, unless it meets the specific criteria listed in the first page of the exemption.

The multiple vessel exemptions clarify coverage provisions and ensure that employment on a vessel or voyage is not unintentionally brought under the scheme, particularly without the knowledge of the employer.

Why were they created?

On 22 December 2014, the Federal Court of Australia unanimously decided the case of Samson Maritime Pty Ltd v Noel Aucote[2014] FCAFC 182 (‘Aucote decision’). The Full Federal Court held that the Seacare scheme applies to all 'employees' (as defined by the Seafarers Act) of a trading, financial or foreign corporation.

This decision changed the way the Seacare Authority interprets coverage provisions under the Seafarers Act.

To bring the scheme in line with the position taken by the Seacare Authority prior to the Aucote decision, the Authority granted two multiple vessel exemptions by own motion for a twelve-month period. The Seacare Authority has, since that time, regularly reviewed the multiple vessel exemptions.

More information about the Aucote decision can be found here.

How do they work?

Employees working on any of the ships listed in ‘Schedule 1’ attached to the exemption are exempt from coverage under the Seafarers Act unless:

  • they are employees for the purposes of the Seafarers Act;
  • subsections 19(1), 19(1AA), 19(1A) or 19(1C) of the Seafarers Act applies to their employment; and
  • the ship is engaged in trade or commerce between states (interstate) or within a territory.

If you are not sure if employment on a vessel or voyage comes under the Seafarers Act, see Guidance on Coverage.

It should be noted that the exemptions do not apply to the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 (Cth).

My vessel is listed in a multiple vessel exemption, what does that mean?

This does not mean that employment on the vessel is automatically exempt from coverage – ships that would have been considered to have been covered by the Seafarers Act prior to the Aucote decision, noting the factors referred to in Guidance on Coverage (employment, operation of the particular subsections and engaging in the defined trade or commerce), remain covered even if they are on the lists.

If you are not sure if employment on a vessel or voyage comes under the Seafarers Act, see Guidance on Coverage. If you are still not sure, you should seek legal advice.

If a voyage or vessel does not come under the Seafarers Act, the multiple vessel exemption ensures that it is exempt from the scheme.

How do I get my vessel on or off the multiple vessel exemption?

If your vessel is not listed under the multiple vessel exemptions and you would like to ensure it is exempted, you can find out more about applying for an exemption here.

If you believe your vessel is exempted from the Seafarers Act by a multiple vessel exemption and you would like to opt into the scheme, please contact the Seacare Helpdesk on 02 6275 0070 or at seacare@comcare.gov.au

Last updated: 26 Mar 2020