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7.1.2 What tasks are not considered household services?

Last amended 
27 July 2021
Household maintenance

The AAT decision in Todd v Department of Defence [1993] AAT No. 9004 (4 August 1993) confirmed that household services does not include the provision of household maintenance tasks. Accordingly the following are not household services as they are considered as household maintenance:

  • painting and decorating (exterior and interior);
  • repairing fences, doors and windows;
  • plumbing;
  • electrical repairs;
  • tree maintenance -includes removing, lopping, trimming, drilling and treating;
  • pest control;
  • the installation of synthetic lawn;
  • landscaping; and
  • removal of large items of rubbish, such as old furniture or white goods that do not fit in normal household bins.
Professional services

In Lander v Comcare [2000] FCA 339 (14 March 2000) Finn J stated '...the household services envisaged are those provided by the household members themselves ... they are not services for which those members make provision for the injured employee through the agency of third party providers.' This means that any service which a householder usually or reasonably needs to employ a professional service provider for, would not typically fall within the definition of a household service.

An exception may be considered where it can be proved that the person has the appropriate qualifications and accreditation to undertake specific types of household maintenance themselves and would have completed these tasks themselves prior to their service related injury or disease. For example, provision of household services for electrical repairs could be considered if the client was a qualified professional electrician who is now unable to undertake electrical maintenance themselves because of their service related injury or disease.


The AAT decision in Pembshaw and Department of Defence [1996] AATA 691 (18 June 1996) confirmed that interior and exterior cleaning of a vehicle was excluded from the definition of household services as the vehicle is not regarded as part of the applicant's house and curtilage. For this reason, washing, servicing, repairing or maintaining vehicles cannot be considered as a household service.

Packing and unpacking boxes when moving house

Assistance with moving house, including the packing and unpacking of moving boxes, cannot be considered under the household services provisions because:

  • it is not a regular task that is required for the proper running and maintenance of the person's home; and
  • it is not unreasonable or unusual for a professional removalist to be employed to assist with house moving.

This applies regardless of whether the person would have undertaken this task themselves prior to their service related injury or disease.