Information for Legal Advisors and Financial Counsellors – BSWAT Payment Scheme

For more information about the history of the BSWAT Payment Scheme, and for links to the relevant court cases, go to the History of the BSWAT Payment Scheme page.

Information for Legal Advisors and Financial Counsellors

The Department has created the following information resources to help Legal Advisors and Financial Counsellors provide services to participants of the Scheme.

Register of Legal Advisors and Financial Counsellors

A public register of qualified Legal Advisors and accredited Financial Counsellors who provide services under the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme (Scheme) is now available.

The register includes contact details, any claimed experience of working with people with intellectual impairments, and any other relevant information the Department is advised of.

Applying to provide Legal Advice or Financial Counselling services

If you are interested in providing services under the Scheme and would like to be included in the public register, you must apply. Registration enables you to claim payment for your services. To do so, please complete the application form.

What is the role of Legal Advisors and Financial Counsellors?

The role of Legal Advisors is to inform participants of the legal implications of the offer of payment and to help them make an informed choice. Legal advice must be given by qualified legal practitioners.

The role of Financial Counsellors is to act as an independent source of information and to assist participants in understanding how an offer of payment can affect their financial situation. Financial counselling must be done by a person who is a fully accredited Financial Counsellor.

When is Legal Advice or Financial Counselling required?

When they receive an offer of payment, participants may seek legal advice about their offer. However, participants are not required to seek legal advice before they accept an offer.

Participants are required to receive financial counselling before they can accept an offer if their offer of payment is $1000 or more. If a participant has an offer of payment of less than $1000 or if their nominee is a Trustee who has been appointed by a court to make financial decisions on their behalf, they are not required to receive financial counselling.

The Government will pay for participants to receive legal advice or financial counselling even if it is not required, subject to limits.

If participants receive legal advice and/or financial counselling, the Legal Advisor or Financial Counsellor must sign the certificate provided in the Letter of Offer. The applicant will provide the signed certificate to the Department with their acceptance forms.

Who is eligible to provide Legal Advice?

To provide legal advice to participants of the Scheme, a person must be a legal practitioner who:

  • is enrolled as a legal practitioner of the High Court, of another federal court or of the Supreme Court of a state or territory; and
  • holds a practising certificate.

Who is eligible to provide Financial Counselling?

To provide financial counselling to participants of the Scheme, a person must be a Financial Counsellor who is a fully accredited member of one of the State or Territory Financial Counselling associations.

How much are Legal Advisors and Financial Counsellors paid under the Scheme?

Legal advisors can claim a flat fee of $850 (including GST). Financial Counsellors can claim a flat fee of $435 (including GST).

If the nominee of a participant is a public trustee or public guardian and they meet the Legal Advisor eligibility criteria, they can claim a flat fee of $290 (including GST) to provide legal advice to that participant.

These amounts are for each participant that a Legal Advisor or Financial Counsellor provides their service to.

If you are interested in providing services under the Scheme, you should apply to be included on the register before claiming payment for your services. To do so, please complete the application form.

After your application form has been processed, you can claim payment for services provided to participants of the Scheme through a departmental Auskey-enabled portal. You will be provided the link to the portal and user guides when your application form has been processed.

If I’m not on the Department’s register can I provide services to participants of the Scheme?

You can still provide services to participants of the Scheme even if you are not included on the public register. However, in order to claim the Government-funded payment you will need to complete the application form. You can apply as a provider but choose not to publish your details on the register.

The role of Financial Counselling Australia

Help for Financial Counsellors

The Department has contracted Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) to raise awareness of the Scheme among Financial Counselling agencies and to support Financial Counsellors to undertake their role in the Scheme effectively.

FCA will provide information, training and support to assist Financial Counsellors understand the Scheme and receive support to work with people with intellectual impairment.

Further information and resources can be found on the FCA Toolkit website.

Telephone or online support is also available through FCA’s BSWAT Hotline for Financial Counsellors: 03 8692 7205 or rita.battaglin@financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au.

Help to make an appointment with a Financial Counsellor

Financial Counselling Australia can also help participants make an appointment with a financial counsellor under the Scheme. Participants can call 1800 896 702 if they would like help to book an appointment with a financial counsellor.

How can I find out more?

Further information about the Scheme is available at BSWAT Payment Scheme.

Queries can be sent to the BSWAT inbox: bswatpayments@dss.gov.au.

Financial Counsellors and Legal Advisors are able to call the BSWAT Financial Counsellors and Legal Advisors information line: 1800 799 515.

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