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SSAT decision ovewrturning Centrelink decision results in CSA coding wrong care and killing CS and raising debt

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Hi,

Sorry this is long. As with most CSA issues, it is quite complex.

The situation

In October of 2010 my children took their own safety and well being into their own hands, as one parent would not cease abuse and negligence. They had been in shared care, but the family law system had failed to protect them and allowed the mother to continue with the child abuse.

The children moved in with me. I filed a claim with Centrelink to cover the increased costs of supporting them. As they did not have the other parents permission to protect their safety and wellbeing Centrelink refused to pay me the FTB payments, and continued to pay the other parent.

I appealed this decision. Centrelink lost three sets of evidence supporting my case and the Original Decision Maker upheld her original decision on the 17th of November. CSA were notified of the decision on 19th November.

I objected to the decision and the case went to and ARO who upheld the ODM's decision and CSA were notified on 6th December 2010.

The decision was that even though Centrelink acknowledged I had 100% care of the boys, they would not systemically acknowledge it until 14th January 2011 at which time, I would receive the benefits to which I was entitled.

CSA subsequently adjusted their records to reflect that from the 14th January the boys were in my care 100%.

I appealed the ARO decision with the SSAT, who took 5 months to get the hearing organised.

SSAT overturned Centrelink's decsion and ordered that they backdate my payments to 24th November 2010, and adjust their records stating that I had care from that date and NOT the 14th January. The decision was made on 22nd July 2011. Centrelink coded the system to reflect the SSAT decision, having decided not to appeal the decision themselves.

On 5th August 2011 Centrelink notified CSA of the change.

The error: CSA then coded the system as me having NO care since the ARO decsion of the 6th of December 2010, instead of coding it as 100% care from 24th November.

CSA then notified me that as I had falsely claimed support for children not in my care that I must repay child support and future payments are forthwith cancelled. I rang them immediately and after a 75 minute conversation they agreed that something must be wrong because they boys did not appear to be in anyone's care; mother or father.

They were unable to explain why the case had been coded this way. They said it would take at least a week to resolve.

CSA then told Centrelink that I had no care of the boys from 6th December 2010. Despite Centrelink having the SSAT decision, and proof that that boys were in my care from October 7th 2010, Centrelink happily accepted what CSA said and cancelled my FTB payments. As I no longer receive FTB they then shifted my rent assistance over to my pension, which is paid at a lower rate. I lost around $200 per fortnight.

Centrelink also raised a debt for just under $7000 for overpayments in FTB. I contacted Centrelink and explained that CSA had got it wrong. They said there was nothing they could do. It was CSA's fault and I would just have to wait until CSA fixed it. The debt letter gave me 3 weeks to come up with the money or organise a payment plan. Centrelink said not to worry because the matter should be sorted out by that time.

It's now a month later.

CSA were unable to determine the cause of the problem. So they said they have recreated my case from scratch and that it is now how it was before they had coded it incorrectly. They say that the correct coding is now that I've lost my 50 cents per day CS my ex-paid, and that the debt still exists, but it is smaller.

I had no debt. I was receiving CS from my ex. The situation is not correct, but they are now refusing to do anything more about it.

CSA stated that they will notify Centrelink of the reduced debt, and Centrelink will adjust their debt down, but I will still have a debt, and I will still not receive payments. This is not correct.

I can no longer pay rent or put food on the table. I can no longer support the kids sporting interest, and pay for school. I asked Centrelink for an advance to cover my rent but they said (of course), if you have a debt, we are not going to give you and advance.

My ex fraudulently told CSA and Centrelink she earns $3200 per year. She has a full time job, recently bought a house, went on a holiday to Tasmania and refuses to support the children in any way. Even if they wanted to return to her care, which they don't; she wont take them, and hasn't got the room as she bought a two bedroom house. So we are really stuck.

My ex also exploited the conflict of interest flaw in the law, so I cannot get legal aid. I have been unable to find a solicitor within 40km that she has not approached and created a COI, so I can't even get legal support or advice. I've approached Law Institute, PILCH, community legal centres more than 3 dozen legal firms and SSRV.

Questions

SO: Where can I go to get help with this?

Where can I get financial assistance to pay rent and buy food? The salvo's gave me $40 vouchers, but said I could only get vouchers every three months. I am getting desparate and concerned for the saftey and welfare of my kids, something CSA and Centrelink are not concerned with.

Do I have to take CSA to court? If so, would that be VCAT, Family Law or Federal Magistrates court?

How would I do this?

Can I file a costs order? Would it be likely to succeed?

How do I get CSA and Centrelink off my case about the debt?

I guess I am going to have to represent myself if I go the court route, if there are no other options, so where the best place to find info on how to to prepare my case?

thanks for your help.
Go to your local member of parliament and maybe they can get a quick sort out.
Things that I think you should do immediately.

1. Lodge an official complaint with the CSA Complaints Department - 132 919

2. Lodge an official complaint with the Centerlink Complaints Department - 1800 050 004

3. Lodge an official complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman - 1300 362 072

4. As suggested, contact your local Federal MP and explain the situation to them

5. Contact the Department of Finance and Deregulation about Compensation for Detriment due to Defective Administration
The CDDA Scheme allows Government agencies to compensate persons who have experienced detriment as a result of an agencys defective actions or inaction.
http://www.finance.gov.au/financial-framework/discretionary-compensation/cdda-scheme.html

Centerlink CDDA Claims: 1800 995 496
CSA CDDA Claims: 1800 247 302

6. Lodge an objection with the CSA against their decision to recreate your account with incorrect information that now has you in debt and unable to support your kids.

7. Contact the Federal Minister for Human Services and complain about the incompetence of the staff you have been dealing with - (02) 6277 7200

Quite frankly, your treatment by these Trolls is appalling and you should leave no stone unturned in your efforts to have this situation put right and have those responsible account for their actions.
I would be seriously considering contacting all the Current Affairs show to see if they are interested…
seriously said
Things that I think you should do immediately.

1. Lodge an official complaint with the CSA Complaints Department - 132 919

2. Lodge an official complaint with the Centerlink Complaints Department - 1800 050 004

3. Lodge an official complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman - 1300 362 072

4. As suggested, contact your local Federal MP and explain the situation to them

5. Contact the Department of Finance and Deregulation about Compensation for Detriment due to Defective Administration
The CDDA Scheme allows Government agencies to compensate persons who have experienced detriment as a result of an agencys defective actions or inaction.
http://www.finance.gov.au/financial-framework/discretionary-compensation/cdda-scheme.html

Centerlink CDDA Claims: 1800 995 496
CSA CDDA Claims: 1800 247 302

6. Lodge an objection with the CSA against their decision to recreate your account with incorrect information that now has you in debt and unable to support your kids.

7. Contact the Federal Minister for Human Services and complain about the incompetence of the staff you have been dealing with - (02) 6277 7200

Quite frankly, your treatment by these Trolls is appalling and you should leave no stone unturned in your efforts to have this situation put right and have those responsible account for their actions.
I would be seriously considering contacting all the Current Affairs show to see if they are interested…
  I had already contacted CSA complaints. They refused to take a complaint because the matter is not yet resolved.

I contacted Centrelink complaints and they took the complaint but said as the is a CSA error there nothing they could do. As the due date for the debt has arrived, they have stated they will be taking money from payments remain to recover the debt. They said I could appeal this but it would take at least 28 days and since they have no way of knowing if the information from CSA is incorrect, it is unlikely that an appeal would succeed.

I contacted ACA and Today Tonight. Neither were interested in the matter.

I contacted legal aid and they said this is not a public interest case. I said that the children are suffering as a result and that this was detrimental to their best interests. They couldn't give a rats.

I will follow the other steps. thanks.
When you talk to the CSA or Centrelink and the first person tells you that they can't help because the error is from another department or some such rubbish, you need to get their name and ask to speak to their supervisor.
Don't be fobbed off, demand to speak to someone above them immediately.
Point out that the children are suffering due to their DEFECTIVE ADMINISTRATION.

If you have the documentation of being declared the 100% carer since last December in front of you when you ring, try demanding to talk to people higher up the chain of command until you get to someone who can actually do something.
They must have copies of that documentation on file and it beggars belief that they could do this…
Can you try your local paper, we had an unfortunate experience with centrelink and went to local mp ( who said it sounded like I could manage on my own so couldn't really help?, however we made the front page of the local paper, and some groceries etc from the same paper, like you we were left with no money not through our fault, defaulted my mortgage ( and I got centrelink to pay the mortgage default fees ( did take them a while).

Not being rude, speak to every agency and tell them you are making a formal complain, speak to supervisor, request a receipt number and take names of each person you speak with.

In vic there is the child safety commissioner, this probably isn't his job but worth contacting, they do social studies, reports to govt etc and eventually these ridiculous decisions have to stop.

Good luck!
Hi Yanta, my name's Marian and I work at the Department of Human Services in a team answering questions about the Child Support Agency and Centrelink posted in online forums, and through social media.

 I understand that you've contacted the Child Support Agency already, and that this is obviously causing you a lot of frustration, but I think you should contact again (phone 131272). Rather than making a complaint, you can ask for an update on the progress of your situation. The fact that they would not take a fresh complaint as the matter is not yet resolved suggests that there is already action being taken to address the situation. If you're unable to resolve the situation with the case officer directly, you can ask to speak to the customer service officers manager.  
 
Further to this, you can email a complaint to CSAComplaintService@csa.gov.au. The instructions on what to do if you are unhappy with CSAs service are on the website here; http://flwg.com.au/forum/pg/topics/new_post/<span%20style=.
 
Also, if you register for csa online you can access detailed information about your own case. Details of how to do this are on the website; http://flwg.com.au/forum/pg/topics/new_post/<span%20style=.
 
Finally, you should contact a Centrelink Social Worker on 13 1794, or you can organise an appointment at your local Centrelink office to speak to a Social Worker in person. Centrelink Social Workers provide confidential counselling and support to customers with difficult personal or family issues, and can also offer information and referrals to community support services.
 
All the best.
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