CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY, CHILD SUPPORT, REVIEW PROCESSES & PATERNITY FRAUD –

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PAYING PARENTS AND THEIR SECOND FAMILIES

[WORKING PAPER – SEPTEMBER 2001] Presented by:Partners of Paying Parents (PoPPs) 

Introduction

Paying Parents and their second families are suffering critical financial and relationship breakdown due to the inequities of current Child Support Scheme (CSS) and Australian Family Law Legislation. In numerous cases, Payers are unable to support their second families due to excessive and unfair payments of Child Support, and many of these second families not only suffer financial demise, but undergo relationship breakdown as well. To date, it would seem that Governments and legislative enquiry committees have been blinded by single mother’s lobby groups as to the true situation of many Paying Parents and their second families. It would seem they fear a ‘back-lash’ from these militant groups, and are more concerned with their personal public acceptance with these groups, than wanting to push for greater equity for the children and families in our society.

The current Government has made attempts to make some changes to legislation, but other political parties and individuals have succeeded to water-down these changes and indeed block completely, other proposed changes. Those recent changes to Child Support legislation, introduced by the Government is appreciated by Paying Parents and their second families, though these changes are minimal compared to what is needed for significant equitable change. Equitable change to Child Support legislation is paramount in the minds of thousands of Australians.

As at June 2000, CSA statistics show that 569,710 cases registered with the Agency accounted for 822,761 children (CSS Facts & Figures 1999-2000). Of these cases, 91.2% of Payers were fathers and 8.7% were mothers. If the paternal family members are included as interested parties, in addition to the vast number of second families involved, that adds up to a huge number of votes for political members – somewhere in the vicinity of at least 6,000,000.

Partners of Paying Parents (PoPPs) does not adhere to either the view of the 1950’s (when men were the dominant parent and family figure) or the view of many militant sole mother’s groups of today – who hinge their ideals on the reverse of the 1950’s. We carry the banner for equity for all children, and equitable treatment of all parents, regardless of gender, by the CSA and the Family Law Courts. The pendulum has swung too far the other way, giving mothers in the Family Court and under the Child Support Scheme, all the power and little accountability. The continued discrimination against children of second families, and discrimination against our partners/spouses who are Paying Parents, will not be tolerated. The Australian community is looking for a Government who will not only acknowledge the inequities and failures of the current legislation and Scheme, but is willing to do something significant about it – in the face of sensitive odds.

Important Notation:

Partners of Paying Parents (PoPPs) does not negate the responsibility of the non-residential parent to provide financially for their first family children. Residential and non-residential parents have a joint responsibility for their children – this should be an emotional, physical and financial responsibility shared 50/50. Under current Child Support and Family Law legislation the usual scenario in family breakdown is that the father is forced to become the non-residential parent and Payer, with little emotional and physical input into his children’s lives. He essentially becomes the ‘wallet’. It is accepted by PoPPs that there are of course cases for both arguments that some parents, regardless of gender, do not wish to have input into their children’s lives. However, PoPPs do not believe that that is the norm.

The following key issues require serious attention and change in order to afford equity to Paying Parents and their second families. Half-baked attempts at legislative change will not be tolerated by the growing community associated with Paying Parents and their families.

THE ISSUES 1. Conflict between Government departments and legislation.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has stated that they will not recognise a

Family Law Court

judgement, eg. declaration of parentage. This poses difficulties for both parties when Government departments refuse to work together legislatively.

RECOMMENDATION:

Government departments and legislation must work in parallel in order to meet principles and Government objectives. CSA must amend its internal policy to adhere to this key principle.

2. Fraud & refunds of monies paid by the Payer – when the Payee has made  false and misleading statements for the purposes of gaining monies or a benefit.  

There are two issues here:

a.      Fraud. Payee making false (fraudulent) and misleading statements for the purposes of gaining a pension or benefit (child support). 

b.      Refund. Payer should be eligible for a refund of monies paid as a result of the false statements by the Payee.

There are many known cases when Payees have applied for and received child support payments under false pretenses, or through making false or misleading representation of information. An example of such a situation is as a result of DNA paternity testing, a child is found not to be the biological child of the Payer. If a Payee has doubt of a child’s paternity or knows the alleged Payer is not the father, they potentially commit fraud by declaring false information and applying for monies (child support). This fraud is committed under the Crimes Act 1914, Sect 29B, 29C & 29D, and under the Child Support (Assessment Act 1989, Sect 159 and the Registration & Collection Act 1988, Sect 34).

Retrieval of these child support monies is paramount to justice and as such the CSA (if the collection agency) should do all acts to assist with the refund of these monies. Under current Child Support legislation (Registration & Collection Act 1988, Sect 75), the CSA may make refund payments to the Payer from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and forthwith impose the refund amount on the Payee as a debt to the Commonwealth. However, the CSA legal services and other staff have stated that though policy allows this, it is not their policy (presumably internal policy) to actually enact the legislation as written.

In the case of a refund as a result of DNA paternity testing and the Payee was not eligible to a child support assessment, the current practice for CSA seems to be one of two options:

a.       If the Payer has a child support liability for another child/dren, then the ‘refund’ is counted as an ‘overpayment’, and the liability is offset against the ‘overpayment’ until the ‘overpayment’ is reduced to zero – then liability for actual payments recommences. 

b.      If the Payer has no other child support liability, then the CSA refuses to refund out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (though legislation allows them to do so – and in fact the CSA has been Ordered by the

Family Law Court

to do so on several recent occasions). The Payer is then instructed that if they wish to gain a refund of child support paid, they must pursue the matter themselves through the Civil or

Family Law Court

.

In the case of ‘a’, the Payer does not receive the true value of the refund as interest is not included, nor the refund calculated at the true value of the money at the time of payment. In the case of ‘b’, it is highly probable that the Payee will refuse and the Payer will be forced to rely on the Court for a ruling for a refund. The Payee is likely to claim ‘inability to pay’, and the Payer will not receive a refund at all.

To date there is no known case of a Payee being investigated and prosecuted under Child Support legislation or the Crimes Act for acts of fraud or giving of false and misleading evidence.

The Child Support Agency currently breaches their duty of care by not investigating and prosecuting the clients that commit these crimes. Furthermore, under Commonwealth legislation, the CSA is complicit to these acts of fraud by ignoring them and not pursuing resolution of them. The CSA may be liable for compensation to clients for their breach of care, and also liable under the Crimes Act. 

RECOMMENDATION:

As the CSA is the collection agency, under current legislation, it should be responsible for providing lump-sum refunds to the Payer as a matter of policy – regardless of whether the Payer continues to have a child support liability for another child or not. The Payer should be the one to allocate how the funds are spent – paying bills, investing the monies, paying child support for another child, etc. It is not the CSA’s right to order what becomes of the refund. This lump-sum payment should occur as part of administrative practice (and include interest), not as a result of the Payer having to gain a judgement from the Courts.

The CSA should then pursue the Payee for the monies falsely claimed through whatever means necessary. Furthermore, it is recommended that in accordance with Child Support legislation (Assessment Act 1989, Sect 159, and the Registration and Collections Act 1988, Sect 34), the CSA pursue judgements against the Payee (regardless of gender) for making fraudulent and false and misleading statements. Penalties should be exacted to maintain accountability of clients and practice objectives – apart from exacting justice under Commonwealth law. Penalties under current legislation include fines and imprisonment.

If the CSA refuses to pursue litigation against clients under Sect 34 and 159 (as above), they stand in breach of the Child Support Act and breach their duty of care. Penalties for such actions by the CSA or staff may be pursued as a legal matter in the Criminal or

Civil Court

by a client (eg. Payer) in relation to their case, and may be an indictable offence under the Crimes Act 1914 – the CSA may be judged as aiding and abetting the fraud offending client.

3. Systemic Corruption & Lack of Accountability – of Child Support Registrar, Child Support Agency staff or Review Officers.

There is little if any accountability of CSA staff in the review process or general administrative procedures, and evidence has shown systemic corruption within the Agency. Government was notified in the 1994 Final Report of the Joint Select Committee of 1992 – to the Child Support Agency, that illegal activity was occurring within the CSA, but have done little to correct this problem.

These activities included the CSA deliberately not adhering to accurate record keeping, and advising in favour of Payee clients for the purposes of aiding and abetting Payee clients in falsely receiving of funds.

Under the Privacy Act 1988, Sect 16, Principle 7 & 8, an agency is required under Commonwealth law to comply with information privacy principles. These principles outline the requirement of record-keepers to keep accurate records and to check the accuracy of personal information before use. Refusal to do so is an offence that may be indictable.

There are clients of the CSA who have officially notified the Agency of corrections to their personal case details or circumstances, and the Agency has either ignored the information, or deliberately chosen to not take the information and change their records. This action on behalf of the CSA is in breach of the Privacy Act and shows systemic corruption.

Review Officers are not held accountable by the CSA for their judgements on a review case. If a client objects, the Review Officer does not have to justify his/her judgement and the only course of action for the client is to take the matter to the Family Court – this being an expensive option, many clients not having the funds after divorce settlement. If the Review Officer does not take into account and record all information from both parties accurately, the Review Officer and the CSA stand to be in breach of the Privacy Act 1988, Sect 16. In addition, they stand to be complicit with a party/client who offers fraudulent information for financial gain.

RECOMMENDATION:

a.       Tape recording of all review interviews. We recommend that Payers tape record the Review interview, serving a copy on the Review Officer, prior to leaving the meeting (ensuring that the tape is bona fide). This is one way that the Payer can keep an accurate record of what occurred in the meeting, and compare the Review Officer’s report with comments made throughout the meeting. This tape should be allowed to be presented as evidence (admissible) in an appeal of the review to either the CSA or a

Family Law Court

.

b.      Clients to request transaction/payment statement. We recommend that on a regular basis, Payers request a transaction statement and thoroughly check it against their own records. The CSA is required by law to furnish such statements. If any administrative errors are found, the CSA may be liable for compensation.

c.       Clients to request of CSA any information relating to their case as required – this is a lawful request under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Freedom of Information Act. The CSA is required to furnish this information.

d.      It is recommended that all notes of the Review Officers should be made available to both parties involved. The Review Officer should be advised by superiors – CSA Registrar, that they can be held accountable by the CSA and/or either party, if both parties are not treated equally. It is PoPPs understanding that many Review Officers are solicitors contracted by the CSA. These Officers should be made clearly aware of the requirement for equity and balance for both parties. For example, both parties should have to provide sound evidence supporting their complaint, and hearsay is not accepted. All claims of costs should be supported by receipts.

e.       Recommended that the Government undertake an enquiry into systemic corruption within the CSA, and seriously consider their position on the issues of fraud and breach of the Privacy Act 1988. PoPPs is aware that individuals from all States of Australia are currently preparing to undertake legal action against the CSA – we understand that the Minister for Community Services’ office has already been made aware of this.

4. Review process male gender biased

There is a shown bias against Paying fathers in review processes – often the Payee is not required to show accounts for expenses claimed, while the Payer is required to show accounts for everything, including food bills. The Review officer stands to breach their duty of care to the client, and breach the Privacy Act 1988 and Crimes Act 1914 (as outlined in issue no. 3, above).

Example: In a case well known to PoPPs, a Payee claimed piano tuition fees for one of the children. The child was not attending piano tuition as the Payer falsely declared. However, the Payee was not required to show receipts and the Review Officer accepted the claim. Additionally, the Payee claimed medical expenses that the Payer had on numerous occasions offered to claim under his family health insurance (he was paying for private health cover for the children). However, the Payee had rejected his offer, choosing instead to make false claims of her requirement to pay the health expenses and that the Payer refused to assist. These claims were also accepted by the Review Officer, in favour of the Payee – though the Payer could show evidence that he had financed private health cover for the child.

When the Payer questioned the bias, he was told by the Review Officer words to the effect, “you are the man, be happy that you don’t get a worse deal. You know that the woman will get what she wants. That’s the way of the system”. The Review Officer was in breach of their duty of care, the Privacy Act (keeping accurate records), and the Child Support legislation, and aiding and abetting an offender under the Crimes Act.

RECOMMENDATION:

During a Review process, it should be mandatory that both parties produce receipts for expenses claimed, and these receipts be made available to each party for verification.

The Review process should include at least two Review Officers, for accountability. Accountability should not begin if and only if either party has the funds to make an application to the Family Court.  Many Payers barely have funds to make child support payments, without the added financial burden of court processes. This is also the case of some Payees. Greater accountability within the Review process could avert further tensions between parties and avoid further unnecessary expenses on the part of both parents.

It is recommended that the Government undertake an enquiry into systemic corruption within the CSA, and seriously consider their position on the issues of fraud and breach of the Privacy Act 1988.

5. Child Support formula based on before tax income is unfair & discriminatory.

Child support amounts are based on before tax income. The general public is not expected to live on a before tax income, so why should the Paying Parent and his second family.

RECOMMENDATION:A child support formula should be based on after tax income. This is in keeping with the general community’s expectation to live on their after tax income. 

6.    Child Support formula unfair – not based on true costs of raising children.

The Child Support formula used for assessing child support payments is not based on true and up-to-date economic modeling for the basic cost of raising children. It is openly acknowledged by political members that the assessment figures made in 1988/89 when the Scheme was introduced, were ‘plucked’ figures and not based on economic modeling.  Utilising the current formula more often results in payments estimated exceptionally high and not based on a realistic figure, enabling the Payer to financially support himself, and his second family, let alone provide for the costs of contact with his first family children.

A number of studies have been done regarding costs for raising children – of which the Department of Family and Community Services is aware. Additionally I refer to “Annex A”, Estimating the Costs of Contact for Non-resident Parents: a budget standards approach, by Dr Paul Henman & Kyle Mitchell (2000). The costs of contact for the non-residential parent is far higher than previously thought or acknowledged. Realistic costs that the Payer must afford to provide contact with his first family children, are not allowed for in the current Child Support formula.  Many parents are forced not to have contact with the children because they simply can’t afford it, or they provide the costs of contact at a basic level and the children of the second family suffer significantly. This is not fair to either groups of children.

RECOMMENDATION:

The Child Support formula needs a serious overhaul to allow the non-residential parent the financial ability to provide adequately for himself, the first family children on contact, and his second family (as applicable). The percentage regime is not realistic and far too high, and should not be based on before tax income – see “Issue No. 5”. A true economic model for costs should be utilised in a formation of a new formula.

Consultation with stakeholders, including second families and non-residential parent groups should be mandatory, prior to new legislative proposals. Any new formula should be applied to real-life cases which PoPPs and a variety of other stakeholders would be more than willing to provide.

7. Both parents do not currently share financial responsibility 50/50 for the child/dren. In the majority of cases the Payer is the primary financial provider.

Child support assessments should be based on a true cost of basic child raising costs, and then this amount be shared 50/50 between both parents. The Child Support Scheme states that it’s aim is to assist both parents to equally share the financial responsibility for their children. This is not currently the case.

It is unrealistic and discriminatory to expect a Payer to provide for two households after family breakdown. It is ludicrous that the current belief seems to be that the Payer should be able to financially support the Payee, and his new household. Whether he be partnered or un-partnered, he still must provide adequate accommodation, transport, utilities, etc for contact with the children. PoPPs has many cases of Payees choosing not to work when the children are school age, or choosing a lower income job, so as to maintain the highest level of child support payments available to them under the current formula. It is ridiculous that the system encourages these practices. It is not surprising that some Payers also attempt to ‘hide’ income so as to be able to financially survive – though the community usually only hears about these activities regarding Payers, not Payees.

RECOMMENDATION:

Legislative changes are required to enact this primary principle of equal parental financial responsibility. A set figure, based on true economic modeling, for the cost of raising a child should be utilised in the child support formula and then this figure divided 50/50 between each of the parents so that they share joint financial responsibility for a child. If the Payer is unemployed or on a low income, then obviously a ‘sliding scale’ would be required. If the Payee is unemployed  or on a low income, they will be eligible for Government benefits as further assistance.

PoPPs is aware that one of the justifications currently made for the present formula is that the children should benefit from their non-residential parent’s income, especially if it is in the higher income bracket. The CSA and it’s system seem to work on the presumption that all non-residential parents do not wish to be financially responsible for their children following family breakdown. Therefore, the Government has incorrectly taken the role of controlling the only part of a person’s life that it can – the financial side, because of Income Tax declarations and refunds. This misleading assumption on behalf of Government legislation automatically assumes the non-residential parent guilty of Child Support avoidance, before proven innocent. In a country that prides itself on democracy and equity, it is a disgrace that Governments have not been willing to significantly address this current highly discriminatory legislation.

PoPPs presents the following views:

a.       Firstly, family breakdown is usually not easy for any party, parent or child. Many non-residential parents who pay child support privately, find that there is a significant reduction in animosity between the parties, and both parents feel they are still contributing to their children’s upbringing. In these cases, the parents have agreed upon a realistic figure. In the case of higher income Payers (under private arrangements), the child support amounts they pay are often higher than the basic cost of raising a child – this is because the parent can afford it and the parties have a private agreement on what the money is spent on. Non-residential parents are more likely to adequately provide financially when they are not forced to pay a high and unrealistic figure by a Government department, under a proven unworkable and failed model.

b.      Non-residential parents are more likely to contribute financially to their children if not automatically thrown into an unfair and unrealistic system and formula that ensures that they will suffer financial hardship. CSA staff are known to encourage women Payees to “try to strip their former partners for everything, because you can get it through the system”. This attitude is indicative of a foundational bias and flaw in the whole system whereby the system seems to operate primarily to enable the Payee to financial gain, at the expense of the Payer and the children. These activities on behalf of the CSA may be prosecutable under Commonwealth law (see issue no. 3). If the Payer cannot survive financially after family breakdown, he will not be able to provide physically (housing/accommodation, transport, utilities, entertainment, etc) for contact with the children, much less provide the emotional support required for the children.

c.       If the residential parent/Payee feels that they cannot adequately provide for the child/dren, then it is suggested that the children reside with the other parent. Studies have shown fathers (generally the Payers) strongly desire to have residency of the children.  However, because of gender bias in the Family Law Courts, judgement for residency is found in the majority of cases in favour of the mother. The father is often given legal counsel to not apply or ‘fight in court’ for residency, as the judgement is already set beforehand because of the bias. Additionally most non-residential fathers also do not have the funds for legal action for residency following settlement, as settlement is also often in the financial favour of the mother.

d.      If shared parenting were considered the norm by the judicial system of the Family Court, the issue of Child Support would not exist. Parents would be financially responsible for the children at the times that they were with them (eg. week on, week off), and would settle issues such as schooling fees, privately. If an agreement could not be reached, it would be recommended that mediation be provided by the Family Court or a department such as the CSA. The CSA would take on a different role – mediation being its primary role, and ‘difficult cases’ of disagreement over child support being in the minority. PoPPs presents that if the formula were fair and equitable to all children/families, the requirement for Government body ‘policing’ of child support would be rare. With a new system/formula having equity principles and true economic modeling, it is expected that it would be well received.

8. Discrimination against second family children – valued lower than first family children.

There is a gross inequity in the current ‘value’ of first family children compared to second family children, in the current Child Support Formula. Though the formula may appear sound to the average observer, when the formula is applied to real-life cases, it is found that it discriminates against second family children and ‘values’ them as lower. For example, in a real case where the Payer paid $11 000 pa child support for 2 children from the first family, the outcome of the formula was that the subsequent 2 children from the second family were ‘valued’ at around $3 000 pa – less than a third of the ‘value’ of the first family children.

A primary flaw of the formula is that children of both families are ‘valued’ on different scales. First family children (ie. children of separated families) are valued not on the basic cost of raising children shared by both parents, but on a percentage formula. Second family children (ie. children of Paying parent from a subsequent relationship) are based on a fixed figure, and the end result is they are valued at a lower rate.

For all children to be ‘valued’ equally by the formula, the children must reside in a ‘broken’ family – ie. their family unit must have suffered breakdown and the parents separated. For example, there are 2 children from family No. 1 and the Payer subsequently has another child in family No. 2. The first children are valued under the formula at 27% and the child from the second family is valued on a fixed figure (at a lower rate to the first 2 children). However, if the second family suffers breakdown and the child subsequently doesn’t reside with the Payer, then all 3 children are considered equal by the formula – the 32% child support that is owed by the Payer for child support is divided equally between the children. Therefore, family No. 1 would receive 21.33% child support and family No. 2 would receive 10.67% child support.

It is ludicrous that children are only valued equally upon family unit breakdown. The Child Support system foundational principles do not encourage the second family unit to remain intact if financial pressure is excessive (as it often is for second families). 

In fact PoPPs is aware of a case in
North NSW where the second family suffered breakdown due to excessive financial pressures from child support payments due to the first family. The CSA notified the mother (payee – second wife) of the second family children and stated that she would not be entitled to any child support from her former husband as they considered the requirement to pay child support to first family children a higher priority. This is blatant discrimination against children of second families.

RECOMMENDATION:

See recommendation of ‘issue no. 6 & 7’.

9. Payer spouse/partner’s income included in Review of child support assessment – this is contrary to legislation. However, Payee spouse/partner’s income NOT included.

Child Support legislation and policy state clearly that neither parent’s new spouse/partner’s income is to be included in the child support assessment process, including the Review process. However, there are numerous cases of a Paying Parent’s new spouse/partner’s income being taken into account in a ‘Review’, and the Payee’s new partner/spouse’s income is not taken into account. It would seem that the CSA is gender biased and determined to ignore such discriminatory practices of their staff and contracted Review Officers.

The justification given for accounting for the Payer’s new partner’s income has been that the Payer now has a greater ‘capacity to pay’, as he has less of a financial obligation to household expenses if he has an employed new partner.

If this justification were to be sound, why is it that the CSA refuses to include a Payee’s new partner’s income in assessments, and refuses to assess the Payee at a greater ‘capacity to pay’ for their own financial parental responsibility for the children? It is obvious that discrimination is rife and unchecked.

RECOMMENDATION:

The CSA should adhere to their legislation and policy and refrain from including either new partner’s income in child support determinations.

If the CSA were to justify accounting for the Payer partner’s income and so maintaining that the Payer had a ‘greater capacity to pay’, then when the Payee re-partners, she should be assessed as having a ‘greater capacity to provide’ financially for the children.

10. Payee’s ‘capacity to earn’ not considered in child support assessments.

A Payee’s capacity to earn is not considered in assessment – even though the Payer’s capacity to earn is. This is blatant discrimination. PoPPs is aware of cases where the Payee chose not to be employed (though they had the capacity for a substantial income) or to take a lower paid job, so as to maximize the amount of child support they could claim from their former partner. In addition, a Payer is often assessed at a higher rate of capacity to earn, even though they can show documents proving that they no longer have the capacity to undertake employment that would provide the particular level of income claimed by the Agency.

RECOMMENDATION:

The CSA must take immediate action to ensure that it’s staff no longer discriminates between Payers and Payees in this manner. Both parties should be treated equally. A Payee should have their ‘capacity to earn/provide’ assessed of their income drops 15% – in alignment with the policy that the Payer must account for why their income has decreased if it drops by 15%.

11. Payee’s and Payer’s exempt income based on different scales.

The Paying Parent’s basic exempt income ($11 271 pa) is based on a different scale and considerably lower than the Payee’s exempt income. The Payer’s exempt income is based on the ‘single person’s pension’, yet the Payer is not given Government allowances afforded to a pensioner, to assist them to survive financially. A pensioner often owns their own home or is given housing assistance, medical & pharmaceutical benefits, transportation discounts and assistance, to name just a few benefits. The Payer does not receive any of these benefits, but is expected to be still able to provide adequately for contact costs for his children.

The Payee’s exempt income is based on the annual equivalent of Average Weekly Earnings ($33 717 pa).  The discrepancies are obvious and discriminatory.

RECOMMENDATION:

The Payer and Payee’s exempt income should be based on the same scale. Both parties have a requirement to provide for costs for the children. See Annex A, regarding costs of contact for a non-residential parent.

Conclusion

The Child Support Scheme is failing families and in particular children of second families. The Scheme needs foundational flaws rooted out and a new system put in place that will provide equity for clients and their children. Current prosecutable practices by the CSA need immediate addressing, and clients should be notified of the seriousness of making fraudulent statements. This is a ‘working paper’ that has outlined a number of crucial issues that Government and the CSA need to make a priority for address and resolution.

References:Attorney General’s Department (2000). Child Support Scheme facts and figures 1999-2000.  

Australian Law. Crimes Act 1914 – Section 29B, Section 29C and Section 29D.

Australian Law. Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 – Section 34 and Section 75. 

Australian Law. Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 – Section 159. 

Australian
Commonwealth Law. Privacy Act 1988 – Section 16. 

Child Support Agency Policy Guideline PG (1997). Child Support Agency Compensation Policy Guideline.  

Flanagan, J. (2001). The lack of accountability of the child support registrar and the child support review officer in the review process. [unpublished]

Henman, P. (1999). Updating Australian budget standards costs of children estimates, Policy Research Paper No. 7, Department of Family and Community Services.

Henman, P. & Mitchell, K (2000). Estimating the costs of contact for non-residential parents: a budget standards approach [to be published in 2001]. 

http://www.dadsontheair.com/research/2003/discrimination.second.families.doc

CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY, CHILD SUPPORT, REVIEW PROCESSES & PATERNITY FRAUD –  

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PAYING PARENTS AND THEIR SECOND FAMILIES

[WORKING PAPER – SEPTEMBER 2001] Presented by:Partners of Paying Parents (PoPPs) 

Introduction

Paying Parents and their second families are suffering critical financial and relationship breakdown due to the inequities of current Child Support Scheme (CSS) and Australian Family Law Legislation. In numerous cases, Payers are unable to support their second families due to excessive and unfair payments of Child Support, and many of these second families not only suffer financial demise, but undergo relationship breakdown as well. To date, it would seem that Governments and legislative enquiry committees have been blinded by single mother’s lobby groups as to the true situation of many Paying Parents and their second families. It would seem they fear a ‘back-lash’ from these militant groups, and are more concerned with their personal public acceptance with these groups, than wanting to push for greater equity for the children and families in our society.

The current Government has made attempts to make some changes to legislation, but other political parties and individuals have succeeded to water-down these changes and indeed block completely, other proposed changes. Those recent changes to Child Support legislation, introduced by the Government is appreciated by Paying Parents and their second families, though these changes are minimal compared to what is needed for significant equitable change. Equitable change to Child Support legislation is paramount in the minds of thousands of Australians.

As at June 2000, CSA statistics show that 569,710 cases registered with the Agency accounted for 822,761 children (CSS Facts & Figures 1999-2000). Of these cases, 91.2% of Payers were fathers and 8.7% were mothers. If the paternal family members are included as interested parties, in addition to the vast number of second families involved, that adds up to a huge number of votes for political members – somewhere in the vicinity of at least 6,000,000.

Partners of Paying Parents (PoPPs) does not adhere to either the view of the 1950’s (when men were the dominant parent and family figure) or the view of many militant sole mother’s groups of today – who hinge their ideals on the reverse of the 1950’s. We carry the banner for equity for all children, and equitable treatment of all parents, regardless of gender, by the CSA and the Family Law Courts. The pendulum has swung too far the other way, giving mothers in the Family Court and under the Child Support Scheme, all the power and little accountability. The continued discrimination against children of second families, and discrimination against our partners/spouses who are Paying Parents, will not be tolerated. The Australian community is looking for a Government who will not only acknowledge the inequities and failures of the current legislation and Scheme, but is willing to do something significant about it – in the face of sensitive odds.

Important Notation:

Partners of Paying Parents (PoPPs) does not negate the responsibility of the non-residential parent to provide financially for their first family children. Residential and non-residential parents have a joint responsibility for their children – this should be an emotional, physical and financial responsibility shared 50/50. Under current Child Support and Family Law legislation the usual scenario in family breakdown is that the father is forced to become the non-residential parent and Payer, with little emotional and physical input into his children’s lives. He essentially becomes the ‘wallet’. It is accepted by PoPPs that there are of course cases for both arguments that some parents, regardless of gender, do not wish to have input into their children’s lives. However, PoPPs do not believe that that is the norm.

The following key issues require serious attention and change in order to afford equity to Paying Parents and their second families. Half-baked attempts at legislative change will not be tolerated by the growing community associated with Paying Parents and their families.

THE ISSUES 1. Conflict between Government departments and legislation.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has stated that they will not recognise a

Family Law Court

judgement, eg. declaration of parentage. This poses difficulties for both parties when Government departments refuse to work together legislatively.

RECOMMENDATION:

Government departments and legislation must work in parallel in order to meet principles and Government objectives. CSA must amend its internal policy to adhere to this key principle.

2. Fraud & refunds of monies paid by the Payer – when the Payee has made  false and misleading statements for the purposes of gaining monies or a benefit.  

There are two issues here:

c.       Fraud. Payee making false (fraudulent) and misleading statements for the purposes of gaining a pension or benefit (child support). 

d.      Refund. Payer should be eligible for a refund of monies paid as a result of the false statements by the Payee.

There are many known cases when Payees have applied for and received child support payments under false pretenses, or through making false or misleading representation of information. An example of such a situation is as a result of DNA paternity testing, a child is found not to be the biological child of the Payer. If a Payee has doubt of a child’s paternity or knows the alleged Payer is not the father, they potentially commit fraud by declaring false information and applying for monies (child support). This fraud is committed under the Crimes Act 1914, Sect 29B, 29C & 29D, and under the Child Support (Assessment Act 1989, Sect 159 and the Registration & Collection Act 1988, Sect 34).

Retrieval of these child support monies is paramount to justice and as such the CSA (if the collection agency) should do all acts to assist with the refund of these monies. Under current Child Support legislation (Registration & Collection Act 1988, Sect 75), the CSA may make refund payments to the Payer from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and forthwith impose the refund amount on the Payee as a debt to the Commonwealth. However, the CSA legal services and other staff have stated that though policy allows this, it is not their policy (presumably internal policy) to actually enact the legislation as written.

In the case of a refund as a result of DNA paternity testing and the Payee was not eligible to a child support assessment, the current practice for CSA seems to be one of two options:

c.       If the Payer has a child support liability for another child/dren, then the ‘refund’ is counted as an ‘overpayment’, and the liability is offset against the ‘overpayment’ until the ‘overpayment’ is reduced to zero – then liability for actual payments recommences. 

d.      If the Payer has no other child support liability, then the CSA refuses to refund out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (though legislation allows them to do so – and in fact the CSA has been Ordered by the

Family Law Court

to do so on several recent occasions). The Payer is then instructed that if they wish to gain a refund of child support paid, they must pursue the matter themselves through the Civil or

Family Law Court

.

In the case of ‘a’, the Payer does not receive the true value of the refund as interest is not included, nor the refund calculated at the true value of the money at the time of payment. In the case of ‘b’, it is highly probable that the Payee will refuse and the Payer will be forced to rely on the Court for a ruling for a refund. The Payee is likely to claim ‘inability to pay’, and the Payer will not receive a refund at all.

To date there is no known case of a Payee being investigated and prosecuted under Child Support legislation or the Crimes Act for acts of fraud or giving of false and misleading evidence.

The Child Support Agency currently breaches their duty of care by not investigating and prosecuting the clients that commit these crimes. Furthermore, under Commonwealth legislation, the CSA is complicit to these acts of fraud by ignoring them and not pursuing resolution of them. The CSA may be liable for compensation to clients for their breach of care, and also liable under the Crimes Act. 

RECOMMENDATION:

As the CSA is the collection agency, under current legislation, it should be responsible for providing lump-sum refunds to the Payer as a matter of policy – regardless of whether the Payer continues to have a child support liability for another child or not. The Payer should be the one to allocate how the funds are spent – paying bills, investing the monies, paying child support for another child, etc. It is not the CSA’s right to order what becomes of the refund. This lump-sum payment should occur as part of administrative practice (and include interest), not as a result of the Payer having to gain a judgement from the Courts.

The CSA should then pursue the Payee for the monies falsely claimed through whatever means necessary. Furthermore, it is recommended that in accordance with Child Support legislation (Assessment Act 1989, Sect 159, and the Registration and Collections Act 1988, Sect 34), the CSA pursue judgements against the Payee (regardless of gender) for making fraudulent and false and misleading statements. Penalties should be exacted to maintain accountability of clients and practice objectives – apart from exacting justice under Commonwealth law. Penalties under current legislation include fines and imprisonment.

If the CSA refuses to pursue litigation against clients under Sect 34 and 159 (as above), they stand in breach of the Child Support Act and breach their duty of care. Penalties for such actions by the CSA or staff may be pursued as a legal matter in the Criminal or

Civil Court

by a client (eg. Payer) in relation to their case, and may be an indictable offence under the Crimes Act 1914 – the CSA may be judged as aiding and abetting the fraud offending client.

3. Systemic Corruption & Lack of Accountability – of Child Support Registrar, Child Support Agency staff or Review Officers.

There is little if any accountability of CSA staff in the review process or general administrative procedures, and evidence has shown systemic corruption within the Agency. Government was notified in the 1994 Final Report of the Joint Select Committee of 1992 – to the Child Support Agency, that illegal activity was occurring within the CSA, but have done little to correct this problem.

These activities included the CSA deliberately not adhering to accurate record keeping, and advising in favour of Payee clients for the purposes of aiding and abetting Payee clients in falsely receiving of funds.

Under the Privacy Act 1988, Sect 16, Principle 7 & 8, an agency is required under Commonwealth law to comply with information privacy principles. These principles outline the requirement of record-keepers to keep accurate records and to check the accuracy of personal information before use. Refusal to do so is an offence that may be indictable.

There are clients of the CSA who have officially notified the Agency of corrections to their personal case details or circumstances, and the Agency has either ignored the information, or deliberately chosen to not take the information and change their records. This action on behalf of the CSA is in breach of the Privacy Act and shows systemic corruption.

Review Officers are not held accountable by the CSA for their judgements on a review case. If a client objects, the Review Officer does not have to justify his/her judgement and the only course of action for the client is to take the matter to the Family Court – this being an expensive option, many clients not having the funds after divorce settlement. If the Review Officer does not take into account and record all information from both parties accurately, the Review Officer and the CSA stand to be in breach of the Privacy Act 1988, Sect 16. In addition, they stand to be complicit with a party/client who offers fraudulent information for financial gain.

RECOMMENDATION:

f.        Tape recording of all review interviews. We recommend that Payers tape record the Review interview, serving a copy on the Review Officer, prior to leaving the meeting (ensuring that the tape is bona fide). This is one way that the Payer can keep an accurate record of what occurred in the meeting, and compare the Review Officer’s report with comments made throughout the meeting. This tape should be allowed to be presented as evidence (admissible) in an appeal of the review to either the CSA or a

Family Law Court

.

g.       Clients to request transaction/payment statement. We recommend that on a regular basis, Payers request a transaction statement and thoroughly check it against their own records. The CSA is required by law to furnish such statements. If any administrative errors are found, the CSA may be liable for compensation.

h.       Clients to request of CSA any information relating to their case as required – this is a lawful request under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Freedom of Information Act. The CSA is required to furnish this information.

i.         It is recommended that all notes of the Review Officers should be made available to both parties involved. The Review Officer should be advised by superiors – CSA Registrar, that they can be held accountable by the CSA and/or either party, if both parties are not treated equally. It is PoPPs understanding that many Review Officers are solicitors contracted by the CSA. These Officers should be made clearly aware of the requirement for equity and balance for both parties. For example, both parties should have to provide sound evidence supporting their complaint, and hearsay is not accepted. All claims of costs should be supported by receipts.

j.        Recommended that the Government undertake an enquiry into systemic corruption within the CSA, and seriously consider their position on the issues of fraud and breach of the Privacy Act 1988. PoPPs is aware that individuals from all States of Australia are currently preparing to undertake legal action against the CSA – we understand that the Minister for Community Services’ office has already been made aware of this.

4. Review process male gender biased

There is a shown bias against Paying fathers in review processes – often the Payee is not required to show accounts for expenses claimed, while the Payer is required to show accounts for everything, including food bills. The Review officer stands to breach their duty of care to the client, and breach the Privacy Act 1988 and Crimes Act 1914 (as outlined in issue no. 3, above).

Example: In a case well known to PoPPs, a Payee claimed piano tuition fees for one of the children. The child was not attending piano tuition as the Payer falsely declared. However, the Payee was not required to show receipts and the Review Officer accepted the claim. Additionally, the Payee claimed medical expenses that the Payer had on numerous occasions offered to claim under his family health insurance (he was paying for private health cover for the children). However, the Payee had rejected his offer, choosing instead to make false claims of her requirement to pay the health expenses and that the Payer refused to assist. These claims were also accepted by the Review Officer, in favour of the Payee – though the Payer could show evidence that he had financed private health cover for the child.

When the Payer questioned the bias, he was told by the Review Officer words to the effect, “you are the man, be happy that you don’t get a worse deal. You know that the woman will get what she wants. That’s the way of the system”. The Review Officer was in breach of their duty of care, the Privacy Act (keeping accurate records), and the Child Support legislation, and aiding and abetting an offender under the Crimes Act.

RECOMMENDATION:

During a Review process, it should be mandatory that both parties produce receipts for expenses claimed, and these receipts be made available to each party for verification.

The Review process should include at least two Review Officers, for accountability. Accountability should not begin if and only if either party has the funds to make an application to the Family Court.  Many Payers barely have funds to make child support payments, without the added financial burden of court processes. This is also the case of some Payees. Greater accountability within the Review process could avert further tensions between parties and avoid further unnecessary expenses on the part of both parents.

It is recommended that the Government undertake an enquiry into systemic corruption within the CSA, and seriously consider their position on the issues of fraud and breach of the Privacy Act 1988.

5. Child Support formula based on before tax income is unfair & discriminatory.

Child support amounts are based on before tax income. The general public is not expected to live on a before tax income, so why should the Paying Parent and his second family.

RECOMMENDATION:A child support formula should be based on after tax income. This is in keeping with the general community’s expectation to live on their after tax income. 

7.    Child Support formula unfair – not based on true costs of raising children.

The Child Support formula used for assessing child support payments is not based on true and up-to-date economic modeling for the basic cost of raising children. It is openly acknowledged by political members that the assessment figures made in 1988/89 when the Scheme was introduced, were ‘plucked’ figures and not based on economic modeling.  Utilising the current formula more often results in payments estimated exceptionally high and not based on a realistic figure, enabling the Payer to financially support himself, and his second family, let alone provide for the costs of contact with his first family children.

A number of studies have been done regarding costs for raising children – of which the Department of Family and Community Services is aware. Additionally I refer to “Annex A”, Estimating the Costs of Contact for Non-resident Parents: a budget standards approach, by Dr Paul Henman & Kyle Mitchell (2000). The costs of contact for the non-residential parent is far higher than previously thought or acknowledged. Realistic costs that the Payer must afford to provide contact with his first family children, are not allowed for in the current Child Support formula.  Many parents are forced not to have contact with the children because they simply can’t afford it, or they provide the costs of contact at a basic level and the children of the second family suffer significantly. This is not fair to either groups of children.

RECOMMENDATION:

The Child Support formula needs a serious overhaul to allow the non-residential parent the financial ability to provide adequately for himself, the first family children on contact, and his second family (as applicable). The percentage regime is not realistic and far too high, and should not be based on before tax income – see “Issue No. 5”. A true economic model for costs should be utilised in a formation of a new formula.

Consultation with stakeholders, including second families and non-residential parent groups should be mandatory, prior to new legislative proposals. Any new formula should be applied to real-life cases which PoPPs and a variety of other stakeholders would be more than willing to provide.

7. Both parents do not currently share financial responsibility 50/50 for the child/dren. In the majority of cases the Payer is the primary financial provider.

Child support assessments should be based on a true cost of basic child raising costs, and then this amount be shared 50/50 between both parents. The Child Support Scheme states that it’s aim is to assist both parents to equally share the financial responsibility for their children. This is not currently the case.

It is unrealistic and discriminatory to expect a Payer to provide for two households after family breakdown. It is ludicrous that the current belief seems to be that the Payer should be able to financially support the Payee, and his new household. Whether he be partnered or un-partnered, he still must provide adequate accommodation, transport, utilities, etc for contact with the children. PoPPs has many cases of Payees choosing not to work when the children are school age, or choosing a lower income job, so as to maintain the highest level of child support payments available to them under the current formula. It is ridiculous that the system encourages these practices. It is not surprising that some Payers also attempt to ‘hide’ income so as to be able to financially survive – though the community usually only hears about these activities regarding Payers, not Payees.

RECOMMENDATION:

Legislative changes are required to enact this primary principle of equal parental financial responsibility. A set figure, based on true economic modeling, for the cost of raising a child should be utilised in the child support formula and then this figure divided 50/50 between each of the parents so that they share joint financial responsibility for a child. If the Payer is unemployed or on a low income, then obviously a ‘sliding scale’ would be required. If the Payee is unemployed  or on a low income, they will be eligible for Government benefits as further assistance.

PoPPs is aware that one of the justifications currently made for the present formula is that the children should benefit from their non-residential parent’s income, especially if it is in the higher income bracket. The CSA and it’s system seem to work on the presumption that all non-residential parents do not wish to be financially responsible for their children following family breakdown. Therefore, the Government has incorrectly taken the role of controlling the only part of a person’s life that it can – the financial side, because of Income Tax declarations and refunds. This misleading assumption on behalf of Government legislation automatically assumes the non-residential parent guilty of Child Support avoidance, before proven innocent. In a country that prides itself on democracy and equity, it is a disgrace that Governments have not been willing to significantly address this current highly discriminatory legislation.

PoPPs presents the following views:

e.       Firstly, family breakdown is usually not easy for any party, parent or child. Many non-residential parents who pay child support privately, find that there is a significant reduction in animosity between the parties, and both parents feel they are still contributing to their children’s upbringing. In these cases, the parents have agreed upon a realistic figure. In the case of higher income Payers (under private arrangements), the child support amounts they pay are often higher than the basic cost of raising a child – this is because the parent can afford it and the parties have a private agreement on what the money is spent on. Non-residential parents are more likely to adequately provide financially when they are not forced to pay a high and unrealistic figure by a Government department, under a proven unworkable and failed model.

f.        Non-residential parents are more likely to contribute financially to their children if not automatically thrown into an unfair and unrealistic system and formula that ensures that they will suffer financial hardship. CSA staff are known to encourage women Payees to “try to strip their former partners for everything, because you can get it through the system”. This attitude is indicative of a foundational bias and flaw in the whole system whereby the system seems to operate primarily to enable the Payee to financial gain, at the expense of the Payer and the children. These activities on behalf of the CSA may be prosecutable under Commonwealth law (see issue no. 3). If the Payer cannot survive financially after family breakdown, he will not be able to provide physically (housing/accommodation, transport, utilities, entertainment, etc) for contact with the children, much less provide the emotional support required for the children.

g.       If the residential parent/Payee feels that they cannot adequately provide for the child/dren, then it is suggested that the children reside with the other parent. Studies have shown fathers (generally the Payers) strongly desire to have residency of the children.  However, because of gender bias in the Family Law Courts, judgement for residency is found in the majority of cases in favour of the mother. The father is often given legal counsel to not apply or ‘fight in court’ for residency, as the judgement is already set beforehand because of the bias. Additionally most non-residential fathers also do not have the funds for legal action for residency following settlement, as settlement is also often in the financial favour of the mother.

h.       If shared parenting were considered the norm by the judicial system of the Family Court, the issue of Child Support would not exist. Parents would be financially responsible for the children at the times that they were with them (eg. week on, week off), and would settle issues such as schooling fees, privately. If an agreement could not be reached, it would be recommended that mediation be provided by the Family Court or a department such as the CSA. The CSA would take on a different role – mediation being its primary role, and ‘difficult cases’ of disagreement over child support being in the minority. PoPPs presents that if the formula were fair and equitable to all children/families, the requirement for Government body ‘policing’ of child support would be rare. With a new system/formula having equity principles and true economic modeling, it is expected that it would be well received.

8. Discrimination against second family children – valued lower than first family children.

There is a gross inequity in the current ‘value’ of first family children compared to second family children, in the current Child Support Formula. Though the formula may appear sound to the average observer, when the formula is applied to real-life cases, it is found that it discriminates against second family children and ‘values’ them as lower. For example, in a real case where the Payer paid $11 000 pa child support for 2 children from the first family, the outcome of the formula was that the subsequent 2 children from the second family were ‘valued’ at around $3 000 pa – less than a third of the ‘value’ of the first family children.

A primary flaw of the formula is that children of both families are ‘valued’ on different scales. First family children (ie. children of separated families) are valued not on the basic cost of raising children shared by both parents, but on a percentage formula. Second family children (ie. children of Paying parent from a subsequent relationship) are based on a fixed figure, and the end result is they are valued at a lower rate.

For all children to be ‘valued’ equally by the formula, the children must reside in a ‘broken’ family – ie. their family unit must have suffered breakdown and the parents separated. For example, there are 2 children from family No. 1 and the Payer subsequently has another child in family No. 2. The first children are valued under the formula at 27% and the child from the second family is valued on a fixed figure (at a lower rate to the first 2 children). However, if the second family suffers breakdown and the child subsequently doesn’t reside with the Payer, then all 3 children are considered equal by the formula – the 32% child support that is owed by the Payer for child support is divided equally between the children. Therefore, family No. 1 would receive 21.33% child support and family No. 2 would receive 10.67% child support.

It is ludicrous that children are only valued equally upon family unit breakdown. The Child Support system foundational principles do not encourage the second family unit to remain intact if financial pressure is excessive (as it often is for second families). 

In fact PoPPs is aware of a case in
North NSW where the second family suffered breakdown due to excessive financial pressures from child support payments due to the first family. The CSA notified the mother (payee – second wife) of the second family children and stated that she would not be entitled to any child support from her former husband as they considered the requirement to pay child support to first family children a higher priority. This is blatant discrimination against children of second families.

RECOMMENDATION:

See recommendation of ‘issue no. 6 & 7’.

9. Payer spouse/partner’s income included in Review of child support assessment – this is contrary to legislation. However, Payee spouse/partner’s income NOT included.

Child Support legislation and policy state clearly that neither parent’s new spouse/partner’s income is to be included in the child support assessment process, including the Review process. However, there are numerous cases of a Paying Parent’s new spouse/partner’s income being taken into account in a ‘Review’, and the Payee’s new partner/spouse’s income is not taken into account. It would seem that the CSA is gender biased and determined to ignore such discriminatory practices of their staff and contracted Review Officers.

The justification given for accounting for the Payer’s new partner’s income has been that the Payer now has a greater ‘capacity to pay’, as he has less of a financial obligation to household expenses if he has an employed new partner.

If this justification were to be sound, why is it that the CSA refuses to include a Payee’s new partner’s income in assessments, and refuses to assess the Payee at a greater ‘capacity to pay’ for their own financial parental responsibility for the children? It is obvious that discrimination is rife and unchecked.

RECOMMENDATION:

The CSA should adhere to their legislation and policy and refrain from including either new partner’s income in child support determinations.

If the CSA were to justify accounting for the Payer partner’s income and so maintaining that the Payer had a ‘greater capacity to pay’, then when the Payee re-partners, she should be assessed as having a ‘greater capacity to provide’ financially for the children.

10. Payee’s ‘capacity to earn’ not considered in child support assessments.

A Payee’s capacity to earn is not considered in assessment – even though the Payer’s capacity to earn is. This is blatant discrimination. PoPPs is aware of cases where the Payee chose not to be employed (though they had the capacity for a substantial income) or to take a lower paid job, so as to maximize the amount of child support they could claim from their former partner. In addition, a Payer is often assessed at a higher rate of capacity to earn, even though they can show documents proving that they no longer have the capacity to undertake employment that would provide the particular level of income claimed by the Agency.

RECOMMENDATION:

The CSA must take immediate action to ensure that it’s staff no longer discriminates between Payers and Payees in this manner. Both parties should be treated equally. A Payee should have their ‘capacity to earn/provide’ assessed of their income drops 15% – in alignment with the policy that the Payer must account for why their income has decreased if it drops by 15%.

11. Payee’s and Payer’s exempt income based on different scales.

The Paying Parent’s basic exempt income ($11 271 pa) is based on a different scale and considerably lower than the Payee’s exempt income. The Payer’s exempt income is based on the ‘single person’s pension’, yet the Payer is not given Government allowances afforded to a pensioner, to assist them to survive financially. A pensioner often owns their own home or is given housing assistance, medical & pharmaceutical benefits, transportation discounts and assistance, to name just a few benefits. The Payer does not receive any of these benefits, but is expected to be still able to provide adequately for contact costs for his children.

The Payee’s exempt income is based on the annual equivalent of Average Weekly Earnings ($33 717 pa).  The discrepancies are obvious and discriminatory.

RECOMMENDATION:

The Payer and Payee’s exempt income should be based on the same scale. Both parties have a requirement to provide for costs for the children. See Annex A, regarding costs of contact for a non-residential parent.

Conclusion

The Child Support Scheme is failing families and in particular children of second families. The Scheme needs foundational flaws rooted out and a new system put in place that will provide equity for clients and their children. Current prosecutable practices by the CSA need immediate addressing, and clients should be notified of the seriousness of making fraudulent statements. This is a ‘working paper’ that has outlined a number of crucial issues that Government and the CSA need to make a priority for address and resolution.

References:Attorney General’s Department (2000). Child Support Scheme facts and figures 1999-2000.  

Australian Law. Crimes Act 1914 – Section 29B, Section 29C and Section 29D.

Australian Law. Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 – Section 34 and Section 75. 

Australian Law. Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 – Section 159. 

Australian
Commonwealth Law. Privacy Act 1988 – Section 16. 

Child Support Agency Policy Guideline PG (1997). Child Support Agency Compensation Policy Guideline.  

Flanagan, J. (2001). The lack of accountability of the child support registrar and the child support review officer in the review process. [unpublished]

Henman, P. (1999). Updating Australian budget standards costs of children estimates, Policy Research Paper No. 7, Department of Family and Community Services.

Henman, P. & Mitchell, K (2000). Estimating the costs of contact for non-residential parents: a budget standards approach [to be published in 2001]. 

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