As a general principle, Centrelink has no duty to volunteer information in relation to social security entitlements (1.1.S.70). Generally, failure to provide such advice will not be treated as negligent.
Exception: If there is a practice to provide such advice in the circumstances under consideration and the person concerned was aware of, and relied on, the practice.
The question of negligence often arises if Centrelink fails to invite a person to claim a benefit. There is generally no negligent misstatement in these cases as Centrelink's actions in automatically advising individuals of their likely entitlements are entirely voluntary. Centrelink has never advertised or otherwise suggested that it has voluntarily assumed a strict duty to inform individuals of their entitlements unless individually approached by such individuals. The first difficulty for an individual is to show that they were aware of Centrelink's practice and relied on that practice as a basis for their actions. Also, even if the individual relied on this, they would have to show it was reasonable to rely on Centrelink's voluntary practice without querying whether they were entitled to another payment.
Policy reference: FA Guide 184.108.40.206 Duty of Care
Last reviewed: 12 August 2013