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Gender Mix at CSA

When Matt Miller took over as Head CSA, he was keen to get a better mix of genders in the CSA staff to avoid accusations of gender bias.  Certainly when dealing with the Tasmanian (Overseas) Office, more men seem to be answering the phones as the initial point of contact.  However we have just found out that our latest SCO is female - which will mean that all 5 of COAs/objections have been dealt with by female SCOs.  Given that allegedly SCOs are higher grade and have some legal background it would appear very unlikley to get so many female SCOs unless there is a real gender bias within this area (at least within the Tasmanian Branch).

Does anyone know any stats on the subject?  Or what have been over people's experiences?
As with all government departments, there is a definite affirmative action in place. You tick a box if you come from a "disadvantaged group". This includes, non-english speaking background, indigenous, disabled and female.

Lately, I have seen a welcome additional box which is "I do not wish to identify".

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Child Support Agency
Tables A1.4 to A1.8 contain summary information about the Child Support Agency's actual staffing.
Classification Location Female Male Total
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
SES Band 3 National office     1   1
SES Band 2 National office 3   2   5
SES Band1 National office 7 1 8   16
  NSW/ACT 1   1   2
  Qld     1   1
  Vic./Tas.     2   2
  WA 1       1
Executive Level 2 National office 35 4 32   71
  NSW/ACT 6   3   9
  Qld. 2   4 7
  SA/NT     1   1
  Vic./Tas 5   4   9
  WA 1       1
Executive Level 1 National office 110 14 76 2 202
  NSW/ACT 29 3 6   38
  Qld. 9 3 12   25
  SA/NT 7 1 1   9
  Vic./Tas 17 4 12   33
  WA 12 1 6   19
APS 6 National office 86 20 42 1 149
  NSW/ACT 92 14 24   130
  Qld. 69 8 24 1 102
  SA/NT 22 2 8   32
  Vic./Tas 79 14 34   127
  WA 27 4 16   47
APS 5 National office 55 3 20 1 79
  NSW/ACT 80 24 37 1 142
  Qld. 65 12 22 2 101
  SA/NT 33 3 8   44
  Vic./Tas 74 15 28 1 118
  WA 36 11 10 58
APS 4 National office 34 3 16   53
  NSW/ACT 176 74 50 4 304
  Qld. 116 27 45 3 191
  SA/NT 29 6 11   46
  Vic./Tas 163 54 57 10 284
  WA 37 20 19 78
APS 3 National office 15   3   18
  NSW/ACT 264 72 94 6 436
  Qld. 191 28 66 3 288
  SA/NT 85 9 37   131
  Vic./Tas 217 61 117 6 401
  WA 91 13 36 2 142
APS 2 NSW/ACT 4 4 6   14
  Qld. 7 5 6 19
  SA/NT 3 2 2   7
  Vic./Tas 4 3 7   14
  WA 1 1 2 1 5
APS 1 National office         0
  NSW/ACT 1       1
  Qld.         0
  SA/NT   1     1
  Vic./Tas     4   4
  WA   1     1
APS Trainee National office 1       1
  Qld 3       3
  Vic./Tas.     1   1
APS Cadet NSW/ACT 1   1   2
  Qld 1       1
  Vic./Tas. 1       1
   Total    2,408 545 1,025 50 4,028


APS = Australian Public Service Level, EL = Executive Level, SES = Senior Executive Service Band

Found at Dept of Human Services Report 2006-2007

Note as this is actual it may be inaccurate, as obviously only information from payees is considered as being actual information. :)

A bit one sided

Of course there is Mike T's comment

 Note as this is actual it may be inaccurate, as obviously only information from payees is considered as being actual information.

  So we have no real way of knowing the information is accurate:P

I wonder how many guys would actually be willing to work for the C$A

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
Also there's another comment, don't rely on that MikeT too much. The columns headers are out. The first two numeric columns are females (full and then part time) and the next two columns are males (full and then part time). Last column is total.
Sorry about that.  :$

Looking into past reports, well Matt doesn't appear to be able to keep it up. Perhaps that's a reason why he is where he is. :)

Currently (well until this year's report comes out). There are 2953 females compared to 1075 males (27% male).

The previous year there were 2059 females compared to 902 males (30% male), which is a little disconcerting as Matt Miller's stated direction seems to be going the wrong way.

The year before that there were 2384 females compared to 842 (26% male).

I'd work for the CSA, if the conditions were right. I believe that they need people who truly understand things from the payer's perspective.
Gender shouldn't influence decision making one bit.  And from my experience I can say they have treated me equally badly.
I dunno. On the few occaisions I've had to deal with my case manager, he's been great. I call him lucky Phil.

But then, my ex hub and I are probably some of his easier customers.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Sorry but what classification are the SCOs?  I do agree that gender shouldn't be an issue but given that many CSA employees are also payees, you do wonder about bias creeping in…

Except for 1 SCO (who did his COA not long after Matt M took over and talked about making the CSA seem fairer etc), husband's experiences have been very poor.  Last SCO more or less told him that he was a dead beat father, while another talked about his poor ex having to bring up the kids alone on her meagre income.  At the time, husband wasn't trying to do anything underhand - he was just applying for a straightforward reduction on the grounds of contact costs, so he was somewhat bemused to be treated in this way when he had proved that each year he spent an additional $12000 AUD on contact on top of the max CSA payment ($28k).

My exerience with CSOs of the C$A

The first Case Officer assigned to my case (pre Matt Miller) was atrocious - providing icomplete and/or flwed information. A couple of times HE even lied to me (I have the appologies from C$A in writing). Eventually I refused to speak to him. His team leader (female) took over the case and things progressed smoothly for a while. I then sent some documents to the C$A which cause my case to be managed out of the Canberra office, service improved immensly.

A couple of years later, the service deteriorated so I asked my new case officer "are you based in Newcastle", her reply was "how do you know that?", I explained "because the service has gone to shite again!" (it improved quickly)

Early last year a case officer, male. proposed that I ask the other party for a private agreement, I replied "I don't expect her to agree so I won't ask". He said he would, I don't know what happened except that C$A ceased trying to collect C$. I don't intend to ask why.

Overall, I have had both male and female case officers who were atrociosly incompetent (or worse, and the worst was a male) and I have had both male and female case officers who were very helpfull.

The issue is not gender of the case officer, but the Training, Supervision and Attitude of the case officer.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
Greebo, I'm not sure how the CSO3, 4 etc fit in to the APS3 etc. At a guess CSO3 = APS3. I'll try to find this out.

OK looks like that is the case, found this on Wagenet:
Wagenet said
'CSO' means a Client Service Officer in CSA; where a CSO level is described in this agreement it equates to the APS level (e.g. CSO 4 is the same as APS 4)
The link to this is Wagenet
Well lifeinsight - you got me there.
Of course - it goes without saying.
Anyone who thinks CSA is in any way a good idea and is working, has worked, or will ever work must have rocks in their head (from my point of view).

Its a flawed system in many ways -
  1. intervention
  2. absurd rules and formulas
  3. Driven by 'victim' mentality
  4. Attracts females to work there
  5. Causes death and financial ruin to its clients
  6. Impossible (almost) to fight - SSAT , courts etc (which are understaffed anyway)
  7. Draconian legislation to stop people at airports, steal money (legally) etc,etc

So all the signs are there :
people not marrying, having children, leaving the country, children not doing well, house affordability going down, mens health problems, growth of single young mothers (having children without marriage, commitment or agreement). Only the most incompetent of policy makers or politician would ever support such a scheme.

The only constant is the payees who continue to complain and ask for more, and more and more money and the dull (or evil) politicians who support them.

In my case i lost everything (house, health, work) EVEN THOUGH I HAD 50/50 AND SHE EARNED THE SAME AS ME.  No benefit to the kids, country or me.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Bigred said
Gender shouldn't influence decision making one bit.  And from my experience I can say they have treated me equally badly.
greebo said
 I do agree that gender shouldn't be an issue but given that many CSA employees are also payees, you do wonder about bias creeping in…
How do we know they are payees?

They are all working, perhaps some of them are payers!

oneadadc said
 Overall, I have had both male and female case officers who were atrociosly incompetent (or worse, and the worst was a male) and I have had both male and female case officers who were very helpfull.

The issue is not gender of the case officer, but the Training, Supervision and Attitude of the case officer.
Thanks for that balanced view oneadadc.

I too have apologies in writing and dollars in compensation relating to decisions made by both males and females.

I agree that training, supervision and attitude are all important factors, and I think a lot of the problem is that clerical officers without the necessary knowledge, experience, and critical thinking skills are making decisions that used to be made by judges .

LifeInsight said
 They only exist to extract money from the payer with no consideration given to their situation.
You are one of the very few people here who has heard my story, so I am surprised you still say this.

Based on my story, I could equally say that they exist only to protect the payer in his/her quest to avoid doing their share to support their children.

However, I do believe we would both be wrong.

They actually exist to manage the provision of support for children.  They are just very bad at it and there are plenty of stories here to show that both payers and payees suffer the consequences.
LifeInsight said
Since I have changed to writing only mode with them, I have managed to keep on top of their rubbish. I recommend that every person do this for their sanity.
So have I and it really helps with both my sanity and the accuracy of the information.

LifeInsight said
 Gee I am having a good vent here - anyway seriously I have been wondering if any like minded people on here, have considered seeking damages from the government for the atrocities committed by the C$A and perhaps the Family court?
Yes, LifeInsight, I have considered just that.

I successfully won financial damages for the results of their 'defective administration'.

I also received a detailed letter apologizing to me and to my children for each of the incidents of defective administration (it ran to three very closely typed pages!).

As part of the acceptance of the financial compensation for actual losses, I was required to sign an agreement not to claim damages for the proven permanent damage to my health and well being.

I did not sign straight away and I thought long and hard about claiming personal damages.  In the end, I decided to vote for sanity and not put myself through that process which would have seen my relationship with the agency continue well past the end of my time as a client.

Instead, I refused to sign until they gave me a further two pages of written assurance that specific and detailed aspects of their customer service would be changed so that at least some of what happened to me would not happen to others. They knew beyond doubt that real physical harm had occurred, so I got my written assurances and I signed the agreement releasing them from all responsibility.

The very next decision they made was based on unsupported information from the payer and was openly biased in favour of the payer because they said, in writing, that they would rather risk under-supporting the children while they were dependant than risk an overpayment. The decision was eventually overturned, not because they demanded that the payer back up his statements which they already had good reason to doubt but because they demanded that I provide the proof to refute them, which I did.

So, yes, someone here has sought damages.  It was a female and a payee at that, and the defective administration was proven.

I hope that clears up three things -

1.      Sometimes males are unjustly treated by CSA, sometimes females are; sometimes payers are unjustly treated by CSA sometimes payees are; neither is privileged and neither is targeted. As my son, says Sh*t happens.

2.      I am prepared to spend hours helping others with CSA problems because I know first hand the stress and distress that is caused when it all goes wrong. I wish someone had been there for me. The assurances I sought from CSA about future services were for the protection of all clients, both male and female, payers and payees.

3.      This is why I get really ticked off when I see constant references on this site to the privileged status of female CSA clients, including the assumption that female=payee=privileged.  It is just not true, nor is it helpful to the debate about the best way forward.

LifeInsight said
After all the C$A has admitted that the past formula was causing much pain and even the PM was quoted in public saying that it was unfair???
Yes, it was unfair, and no, I for one will not be seeking damages.

In some circumstances, the formula was unfair to payers; in others it was unfair to payees.

On top of my woes with the misadministration of my case, mine was also one of the situations where the basic formula was unfair.

I am just accepting the past injustice as past, and accepting that the future will be better.

Some fuel for the debate:-

Alby Schultz - Member for Hume (from Hansard I think) said
(P.98 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - Wednesday, 9 February 2005 )

Mr SCHULTZ (Hume) (7.52 p.m.) - Once again, I rise in this place to talk about what I have described before as the national disgrace - commonly referred to as the Child Support Agency. Over the months prior to the Christmas and New Year break I received hundreds of emails, faxes and phone calls about problems associated with the pressure placed on payers of support following broken marriages. As a result of all of those particular faxes, emails and calls, I am very much aware of the failure of successive governments and ministers of the Crown to detect and rectify the anti male culture endemic in the Child Support Agency.

More importantly, since then I have been getting additional faxes, emails and phone calls to the point where I now have three files containing hundreds and hundreds of cases of what can only be described as the disgraceful results of actions by the Child Support Agency. I believe that in most cases it is abusing its powers and is misusing the act under which it operates.

The information that I have proves conclusively that the actions of the Child Support Agency have had a significant impact on male suicide. It has certainly had an impact on bankruptcies. It has caused breakdown, heartache and pressures for new families where payers of support have tried to get on with their life and create new relationships. It has pursued the illegal and abusive use of its powers by accessing people's bank accounts, which I have referred to in the past.

These stories, from people from all over Australia, have reinforced and confirmed to me that the thing I feared is in fact operating. Institutionalised sexism is endemic and operating in the Child Support Agency and, to a lesser degree, in the Family Court. I have been so concerned about this particular issue that I have had preliminary talks with the commissioner who deals, within and outside the government, with issues of sex discrimination. I have asked the commissioner to sit down and give me an overall brief on what her role is, how her charter operates and how she, as the commissioner, is required to operate it. I did that on the basis of forewarning her that I am going to lodge an official complaint, as a member of parliament, about the anti male bias in the way the Child Support Agency operates and its obviously institutionalised sexism against males.

I will do that because I can no longer tolerate and bear to read about and absorb the pain and suffering that is occurring because of the way in which they operate. Publicly, they declare that their task is to provide child support but it is, in fact, spousal maintenance, which is destroying lives and careers. I can no longer allow that to happen and I am going to pursue this issue. If it takes this and the next term of government to get a final conclusion - such as the Child Support Agency being restructured or removed and replaced with some other form of child support that lives and operates within the realm of reasonableness in the Australian community - then that is the way it is going to have to be. Unfortunately, that may not go down too well with some of my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House, and it certainly may not go down too well with some of the ministers of the Crown in this place. (Time expired)
My own fuel considers more recent moves (well a continuation by the second of the two Joes, i.e. Joe Ludwig).

There is great mention of the enormous amount of debt, however, unless their is some gender based disposition towards rorting the system one has to assume that for each payer rorting, by hiding their true income, there is a payee also doing the same, perhaps more one way than the other.

I doubt any would claim that every payee is a saint.

From what the two Joe's have said in their respective terms there is bias against payers, no mention of the amounts rorted by payees or consideration for the harm done to children due to that rorting. That is bias and as the bias is from the ministers who oversee the CSA then this bias will (and has) seep(ed) down (or more likely run down in torrents adied by $146 million).

Regarding payees as employess. I knew I had seen/heard something with regard to this. Here's something I have found :- said
20 February 2006

 Child Support workers also clients

 By Saffron Howden

 AAP - The confidentiality of Child Support Agency (CSA) files has been called into question following the revelation that around 15 per cent of its workers are also clients.

 The CSA, the federal body responsible for collecting and distributing child support payments for separated families, has around 3000 employees nationwide.

 About 500 of these were also clients, Human Services Minister Joe Hockey said in a response to a question on notice asked in Parliament.

 Access to staff case files was restricted, he said.

 But Labor MP Kelvin Thomson said it represented a clear conflict of interest.

 "Five hundred employees or 15 per cent is a high number. These are people who have a very clear conflict of interest," he said.

 Mr Thomson said he will be looking into whether the systems protecting private information about ex-partners and spouses are strong enough.

 A spokeswoman for the CSA said some employees had lost their jobs after they were found to be wrongfully accessing files.

 "Staff have had their employment terminated in the past … basically for browsing files," she said.

 In the six years to 2004-05, 14 staff members were dismissed for browsing client files or accessing information without permission, she said.

 One former CSA case worker, who is also a client and cannot be named, said when he worked at the agency more than three years ago copies of the case files were kept in an unlocked cupboard.

 "The CSA system when I was working there … the physical files were contained in an unlocked cupboard," he said.

 The restricted access system was bypassed easily by asking someone with access to open files, he said.

 "I know that the CSA had a very poor record on privacy and … there was a slap-on-the-wrist mentality."

 Around 1.2 million parents are clients of the CSA, paying or collecting through the Child Support Scheme to provide financial support to their children.
Link to the article
Lifeinsight, I have imagined that and as a result I have done a little toward changing the balance of power. I will say nothing else in regard to this other than to say that if the circumstances were right then I'd willingly offer myself toward changing the balance.

I probably wouldn't last long though because I wouldn't accept some of the things that the employees are told.
I must admit that I BriarRose has a good point.  I apologise if I have come across as too anti-payee as I have come across other payees who have been treated appalling (including one whose ex had set up his own private medical clinic and had successfully claimed that his income was less than average male income with his house/car etc put down as business costs!  CSA also refused to go for CTE despite prior to this he had earned massively over income cap).

It sometimes seems that the easiest thing to do for a lazy/incompetent employee is to blindly apply administrative formula rather than ask for claims to be substantiated or ensure CSA's own procedures are strictly adhered to.  I strongly believe that where there is any dispute, the outcome should not just be dependent on a single employee and should be subject to, as a minimum. peer review, with preferably a % of cases in dispute checked by an independent set of officers as a qulaity control measure.

Payees get money. Most of them are women. They are payees because they:

1) Don't work

2) Earn less (because they work part-time or don't have a high paying job)

3) And or have higher custody

Should 50/50 result in a payee? - I believe no.
Should women who have no career or who earn less than their partner be compensated for that? - no.

Should women who got half (and usually more) than the total asset pool then get more money every fortnight? - I believe no.

I think both parties should adjust to their new circumstances - women should work and live on the income they are able to earn (just like men - oops not quite like men because they usually have to pay CSA).

I also believe that in most circumstances - 50/50 should be the default and all men and women should en encouraged to support that.

So creating CSA (it was all about single mothers and the social security costs and still is) and giving it the powers it has will always encourage women to work there.

Its like Gender Studies at universities. Where do you think 'researchers' come from?

I am not anti payee or anti women - Its just about a wrong system supporting people behaving badly.

there should be no such thing as payers or payees, CSA should not exist. Its not working.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
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