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Recent discussion in the UK Parliament is to abolish CSA and let parents negotiate an agreement. This is going back in past, although I fully agree. However, why Uk is proposing this because who bears the cost of CSA? Govt. why?? Last night at BBC news, it was father pays 100, child gets 60. Where is 40 gone.

So wake up…its tome for uprising and abolish the CSA. The govt wants and so does fathers. It should be named as Single Monther's Support Agency, than CSA.

This is why uprisong against LAW is what is needed.
Just remember that generalisations based on gender are not that good when you consider that there are a number of fathers who are sole parents.

I don't know if you in Australia, but what the paying parent pays, the receiving parent gets. CSA running costs are underwritten by the Fed gov. now through the Centrelink merger.

If the CSA was abolished, given the degree of conflict between many parents even now, the Family Law Courts would be chockers and the adversarial system would not help many parental relationships. This was the situation before CSA was created and many children went without as sometimes it was too expensive to go to court to get child support.
I agree with valere-
Child support has a purpose and alot of parents would face finacial hardship if it's services didn't exist .

Abolish CSA, then legislate for a more Equitable system to all Australians.

In answer to the previous comments, yes I think that abolishing CSA would be a good move. But then conflicting parents would have to go to the Family Court(FC) itself which would mean the Govt. would have to direct a HUGE amount of funding to the FC. I do agree that it is a much fairer system (FC), as I was pre 1988 and had to eventually go through these channels to obtain child support, but this did not happen until my daughter was 17yrs. The overall costs of time (usually days off work) and money (And stress) means that parents only end up there when there has been a complete break down of communication and the thought of self representing (usually up against the ex-partner's lawyer) is a big deterrent for many. I do agree that a lot of children do not obtain the financial or emotional support they require with this system. Perhaps directing more money towards Centrelink and the Family Assistance Office is the way to go. Centrelink have to abide by the law and here incomes are verified under a much fairer system which applies to all Australians. The removal of CSA would be cost effect for the Govt and the bias that presently exists for the Payer, who seems to be hunted down relentlessly for money, would be removed. I just think a person pays their taxes (referring to the Payer) and that the CSA is just a tax on children by the Government when parents separate to justify the costs. This then sends a clear message that it is better for the Payer to stay in a bad marriage for the children and themselves, both financially and emotionally.
Upon reflection, it is not the CSA itself that is the issue and which causes much grief, it is the people employed within the Agency who are the problem.

Why not pour more money into proper recruitment and training and have more checks and balances into the quality of how the CS laws are applied by Agency staff. There should be competancy testing and update training on aspects such as the difference between registered and approved child care, application of case law (eg what are and are not 'financial resources' and court orders for care and contact) and even a basic business course - including what is taxable depreciation for plant, GST and what are profits and losses by a company compared to profit and loss by an individual.  

It is not proficiency in written English and computer skills that should be part of the crieria to get a job there, but spoken English and telephone skills and a basic knowledge of the Family Law Act and CS legislation. There has to be more accountability and less cover up by Agency employees.
Valere said
Why not pour more money into proper recruitment and training and have more checks and balances into the quality of how the CS laws are applied by Agency staff.

I think that "Staff" is only one of the issues. There is I believe a major flaw in the mindset of the upper echelons which is also reflected in the policy that the upper echelons impose on the staff. I have little doubt that it was this mindset that surreptitiously introduced the hidden aspect of the spring 2010 changes that basically reward child abuse by rewarding parents who deprive their child of their humane right to know and be cared for by the other parent when there have been orders or agreements made that are then being contradicted. This only being one example.

The legislation itself does cause untold harm. It is disgraceful especially in how it allows those with little if any court experience to act as a registrar and thus basically as a judge. The legislation, especially in regard to departures (or change of assessments) allows what is not fact to be applied with very little chance of recourse for what is basically then enslavement. There are quite a few examples on here that show how the application of the legislation is basically making it not viable for a liable parent to be self-employed or to run a small business.  The legislation is half-baked in that there is no iota of any impositions on the recipient to spend the money for the child on the child. The amounts extracted for CS are greatly exaggerated and are way beyond support.

I suggest that pouring money into that proper recruitment and training would effect little if any improvement. There is very little chance of those having the experience you speak of taking such a wage cut. I agree that the latter, checks and balances, should improve matters. However, if the CSA themselves (i.e. the higher echelons) are themselves not checked when determining the checks then it will be a whitewash that favours efficient collection above the welfare and rights of liable parents and children. We saw that with the previously mentioned Spring 2010 changes. Personally I believe that you could very much get rid of staff and the need for staff training; you could have something similar to E-Tax, say E-CS with a minimal staff simply rubber stamping the evidence.
I will put my 2 bobs worth in.

The government should set up an independant body who can rule on the decisions like the SSAT. But not the SSAT becasuse they are all Ex CSA people who in there findings agree with the CSA and add more onto the findings from the CSA.
The independant body would be able to sit down with you for a whole day or as long as it takes to get the correct answers.
Not like the SSAT who get you out the door as quick as they get you in and if you dont have evidence with you then its bad luck.

The CSA do a good job for some people and others like myself who are self employed they do a SH&^ Job
The system has to be changed, sooner rather then later or we are going to see more people putting there kids life at risk.


There would be a lot more happy parents out there if it was done this way. More time to sit down with them and discuss things in person and then we wouldnt have the high costs of solicitors to represent us in court because we dont understand the lingo
I would suggest that they cap the child support based on the payers wage, rather than both wages. This will prevent some payees from choosing to be unemployed. The minimum child support payment should be increased though, preventing some payers to choose not to work. The cost of the children should be calculated reasonable and unless there is a wage increase for the payer, CS shouldn't increase by inflation. Parents should be forced to mediation. This would create jobs and will help certain issues from arising. The mediation process should go for 3 month and a minimum Childsupport payment for those months should be paid, this might increase some fathers to get access. No access, unless otherwise ordered from the court, no child support. If there is concern about abuse, the court option should be avialble straight away. If the payee breaks orders without being concerned about the well being of the child, CS should reduce. If the payer breaks orders, CS should increase. Now I don't know how that all would be enforcable. CSA is not a child support agency. They are nothing more then a collection agency. No issues are solved, family situation worsen. I don't think CS should be reduced overall, but in some cases (like I have mentioned above) it should. This system is in need for more individual approaches. It can't be, that a parent who works long hours, which doesn't see his children, with huge debt after the divorce, has to fork out thousands that the other parent ends up with exactly the same wage, he has left after paying CS, minus the debt and with a property. I have heard many of those story's. We are stil lucky with our situation. Hecs debts should also be taking off the wage, before calculating CS. Why? Well in most cases uni is the reason for the increase in wages for the first place.
It is money for the children, but what some payers have to pay is just crazy, its almost another wage. Why go and work if you can get up to 3k in CS if your ex earns good money. They don't look at the big picture though. Even though our situation isn't that crazy, what we currently pay, after working out some things, is reasonable and we are happy to pay this. What we would have had to pay having no contact, would have been much more then the cost of the children though. Seriously. If all kids would cost this amount, most family's could not afford children. We certainly couldn't.
Samba said
And that the current system doesnt even account for a 4th or subsequent child, and that no matter what the situation the self support amount is the same so a mum who is trying to raise her 4 children and pay the rent on a place to house them has the same self support amount as the man that just skips off and abandons his children (yes, its quite common but of course you will say she must be with holding access wont you?).
Samba not all men skip off and abandon their children, those that do are in the minority. 90% of payers do pay child support. When the payer (who is not the resident parent) has access to their kids they usually also have the cost of high rent ect as they need to provide accommodation for when their kids visit. Some payers also go on to have other children, yet the CS assesment drops only a few dollars to account for those children. If it's about the children, why should any child be favored over another?

Many payers (the majority who are fathers) like my OH also have high costs in visiting their kids which is not properly accounted for under the CS legislation. It's also not uncommon that payers have to spend large amounts of money providing things for their children that the payees (the majority who are mothers), despite getting CS fail to pay for. Your post is biased, obiviously because of your own situation and it totally ignores the fact that alot of payers (90%) do the right thing, but not all payees do!

In regards to MikeT's post that you quoted, I think any payer that pays child support should have a say on exactly how that money is spent every month. The amounts are exaggerated, the CSA calculates the cost of the resident parent raising my exes 3 kids at close too 50k per year!. I know alot of 2 parent, single income families, that live ok 50k a year. If the costs of raising children where as the CSA claims then only the very wealthy would be having kids, not even average wage earners in 2 parent family's could afford kids. 
And, if I may add Frenzy, there are non custidal mothers also, which do not see their children and refuse to pay child support. I, myself, know 2 families, where the mother abounded her children. But just like Frenzy said, those parents are the minority!
Samba said
And that the current system doesnt even account for a 4th or subsequent child, and that no matter what the situation the self support amount is the same so a mum who is trying to raise her 4 children and pay the rent on a place to house them has the same self support amount as the man that just skips off and abandons his children (yes, its quite common but of course you will say she must be with holding access wont you?).

All arguments put forward simply do not have an affect of increasing what it costs an individual to support them-self. In fact having a greater number of children results in the benefit from the savings associated with scale. So it is a fact that an individual with a greater number of children should in fact have a lower self-support income that reflects the benefits of the economies of scale and then even lower if you consider the taxpayer funded benefits.

However, the argument put forward is so often moot as the alleged parent that best fits the given scenario type will more than likely be a recipient of welfare support and thus is more than amply provided for by the welfare system and as there is no or little taxable income (i.e. less than the SSA) the SSA will have no impact at all upon the calculation of CS.

As for fourth and subsequent children they are actually considered as follows:

In the Best Interests of Children - Reforming the Child Support Scheme Summary Report - May 2005 said
.5 Number of children

In the proposed formula the costs of children will be expressed for one child, two children and three or more children (emphasis added), rather than up to five children as it is at present. This simplification is possible because after taking account of the impact of FTB A, the Taskforce found that family spending on four or more children is little different from that on three children. FTB A is payable on a per child basis, and does not take account of the economies of scale that are possible for larger families. This means FTB A is proportionately more generous to large families. While families with higher incomes receive less FTB A, and may not receive any at all, their capacity to spend on each child is constrained as the number of children increases. Consequently, approximately the same proportion of income is spent on four or more children as would be spent on three.

For any who are unaware this is a summary of the report that drove the changes to CS that were introduced from 2006-2008.
It should go through family court CSA is a joke
C$A was absorbed into Centrelink as of July last year and there have been major changes to the formula. Before anything further changes are done I suggest that Family Assistance make some changes like only using biological parents income to determine family benefits for children regardless of where everyone lives. Allowing people with less than 35% care to get Family benefits.
I think the costs of running child support agency shpould be directed to centrerlink and incorporated into single parent payments
I have read many of the comments but before saying what I think I have to declare I spent 15 years working for CSA.  I don't really want to say in what capacity but I worked in an area that allowed me to get a good view of the whole system.

For me the real issue was not the people, management or anything like that.  It was, quite simply, how complex the whole thing was.  Reviews were done to make it simpler etc etc but it really only made it worse.  You see whenever a change was made the old legislation applied before that date and as time went by it simply became more complex and more complex.  They have a computer system to support staff but all that happened was it became more unwieldy and complex with every change - it took some very seriously talented IT people who were under quite a lot of strain (and often didn't last long - working elsewhere was simply a lot easier) to maintain it and it only got worse with time not better.  Think about it for a minute of coming up with plain English letters generated by a computer based on constantly changing complex legislation and you may understand how the computer system could generate any understandable letter.

I see complaints about data corruption, letters that cant be understood, and inability of staff to understand whats going on.  It has on simple cause - its unbelievable complexity.  The answer is simple as well - simplify the whole thing with backdating so you do not get that complexity hanging around until the end of time and getting worse with each change.

Should it be scrapped?  If it was scrapped you would face exactly the same problems with whatever replaced it until the real cause is addressed - its complexity.
Sorry Oldboy. I've got to disagree. The legislation is not that complex, very badly written yep. Few CSA staff even look at the legislation, they do the 6 weeks, which mentions the legislation a little, and then rely on the (Procedural Instructions) PI's or their own memory. Letter writing isn't that much of an issue, it's some of the absurd decisions and the unfairness, especially of change of assessment. The CSO's do have to take some of the blame, some, perhaps many simply don't know their job. e.g. I got told by a 7 year verteran that I couldn't have a copy of my screen notes because they are protected by FOI. I had to tell the CSO to call the FOI officer who confirmed what I said. Another time the other parent informed me of a friend who'd been told that they couldn't apply for CS as the other parent of the newly born child, was under 17 at the time of conception. I've had senior officers phone on behalf of Matt Miller, when I was write only. I've got a letter from CDDA with three confirmed counts of defective administration, not technical issues, officers not doing the job they are meant to do.

I also disagree that the legislation changes that much. Ok so 2006-2008 there were major changes, but since then there have only really been minor changes and I believe that the CSA are quite involved in those changes.

I also don't believe that the IT is that talented either. Just take a look at the calculator that's available on this site in comparison to the CSA's estimator. The advanced calculator can do all scenarios unlike the Governments Estimator that is limited to not being able to cope with multi-case and non-parent carer scenarios. The advanced calculator was written in well under 6 months by basically one person, this included looking at the legislation and interpreting it. If you take a little step away from the CSA and look at the "owners as such" of the mainframes that the CSA use and on which CUBA resides, i.e. the ATO, their legislation is far more complex and changed far moe often and by a greater deal, yet you can download E-tax each year and do your tax relatively simply.

As for managing what is a relatively small amount of letters in comparison say to Telstra or Optus billing letters, I don't consider it at all difficult. I have had experience with letter writing, that makes Telstra look miniscule i.e. CVNS (Concert Virtual Network Service); Concert was the first multi-service global end-to-end telecommunications provider. Concert used similar mainframes i.e. IBM's or equivalents, the letter writing had to be in many languages, the billing was for millions of calls per day or even an hour, I can't remember how many. It worked, it had to. I was actually asked to review the Estimator and found quite a few errors, one if you input a large amount such as $10,000,000 then it would work out CS to e $0. I even provided the cause, no consideration for the number of bits (i.e. if a number required more than 31 bits then it would set the sign and then be negative).

Sorry but there is no way that you can convince me that there is that much Talent in IT for the CSA, the results just don't show it.

Last edit: by MikeT

Oldboy - so is that the reason why C$A have nothing but contempt for the payer?
Oldboy

Glad that you put your 2 bobs worth in as an ex CSA worker.
I hope that you can give some of us readers more advise/help on this forum because the CSA system sucks in my department of depreciation on a business loan and the reconciliation done 8 years ago without a court order.

MikeT said
Sorry Oldboy. I've got to disagree. The legislation is not that complex, very badly written yep. Few CSA staff even look at the legislation, they do the 6 weeks, which mentions the legislation a little, and then rely on the (Procedural Instructions) PI's or their own memory. Letter writing isn't that much of an issue, it's some of the absurd decisions and the unfairness, especially of change of assessment. The CSO's do have to take some of the blame, some, perhaps many simply don't know their job. e.g. I got told by a 7 year verteran that I couldn't have a copy of my screen notes because they are protected by FOI. I had to tell the CSO to call the FOI officer who confirmed what I said. Another time the other parent informed me of a friend who'd been told that they couldn't apply for CS as the other parent of the newly born child, was under 17 at the time of conception. I've had senior officers phone on behalf of Matt Miller, when I was write only. I've got a letter from CDDA with three confirmed counts of defective administration, not technical issues, officers not doing the job they are meant to do.

I also disagree that the legislation changes that much. Ok so 2006-2008 there were major changes, but since then there have only really been minor changes and I believe that the CSA are quite involved in those changes.

I also don't believe that the IT is that talented either. Just take a look at the calculator that's available on this site in comparison to the CSA's estimator. The advanced calculator can do all scenarios unlike the Governments Estimator that is limited to not being able to cope with multi-case and non-parent carer scenarios. The advanced calculator was written in well under 6 months by basically one person, this included looking at the legislation and interpreting it. If you take a little step away from the CSA and look at the "owners as such" of the mainframes that the CSA use and on which CUBA resides, i.e. the ATO, their legislation is far more complex and changed far moe often and by a greater deal, yet you can download E-tax each year and do your tax relatively simply.

As for managing what is a relatively small amount of letters in comparison say to Telstra or Optus billing letters, I don't consider it at all difficult. I have had experience with letter writing, that makes Telstra look miniscule i.e. CVNS (Concert Virtual Network Service); Concert was the first multi-service global end-to-end telecommunications provider. Concert used similar mainframes i.e. IBM's or equivalents, the letter writing had to be in many languages, the billing was for millions of calls per day or even an hour, I can't remember how many. It worked, it had to. I was actually asked to review the Estimator and found quite a few errors, one if you input a large amount such as $10,000,000 then it would work out CS to e $0. I even provided the cause, no consideration for the number of bits (i.e. if a number required more than 31 bits then it would set the sign and then be negative).

Sorry but there is no way that you can convince me that there is that much Talent in IT for the CSA, the results just don't show it.

I did not say the current legislation is that difficult - but do you know the legislation from 20 or 25 years ago?  The computer system has to as well any change ever made and backdate any application to that legislation from the start date.  It is so bad at one time they outsourced the redevelopment of the CSA system (that was the CUBA debacle when it was first introduced - if you don't remember ask some others who were there then) and one of the outsources with a doctorate in computer science stated it outright - you could replace the assessment engine with a random number generator and no one would be the wiser.  They assigned their best programmer to do it and he failed miserably - and take my word for it he was good - I have known quite a few IT people in my time and he is easily in the top 5 - and commanded and hourly rate that would make your eyes bulge - it made mine when I found it out - nice bloke though. The way they got it working was to assign it to someone with many years experience in the CSA system.  I know many people who have worked on that system, and every single person, without exception, has said it is a quantum leap in difficulty to any other system they have worked on.  When the CSA was part of the ATO they did study into all the systems in the ATO and thought because the IT area of CSA was so small it must be a small simple system - in fact it turned out to be the largest most complex system in the ATO.  Occasionally, mostly in an attempt to get a promotion, you would get people come on over from the ATO IT area.  With few exceptions they left quick smart.  I remember one guy who was a senior programmer (ITO2) came on over and was given the letter engine to look at.  He simply threw his arms up and got transferred back.  Basically to get programmers to work on that system you had to take people at the senior officer level who are really team leaders rather than actual programmers to do it - but it killed their promotional opportunities because doing technical work is not the path to director level.  To a non IT person it may seem not that hard but it is - there is no question about it - it is a very difficult complex system.

You mentioned multi-case clients - that's a whole different ball game again - and responsible for a lot of the systems complexity.

Now it has been a few years since I worked in CSA and things may have changed but I doubt it.



Interesting Oldboy - I run an IT business and if we created databases that stuffed up even one 10th of the rate that CSA's does we would be routinely having our backsides sued.

Just because it is complex and makes your head explode does NOT mean there is an excuse for it to make mistakes.

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it."
Bill Cosby
 :thumbs:
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