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unpublished SSAT decisions

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We are told that SSAT decisions are now published. On both the CSA and SSAT wedsites there are anly about 30 decisions posted for each year since 2008. What is going on? There would be many 100s of decisions written every year but only 30 or so are published each year. The idea behind the publishing was to make this unfair CSA system more transparent for all. But this has not happened as so few decisions are published. It is no help to someone who has (say) a reason 6 (high costs of child care) lodged against them as no decisions for this reason has every been published.

Have I missed something here? Am I looking in the wrong place?
When I look for SSAT decisions I use http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/SSATACSA/. However, you are correct that only a relatively small number of decisions are published. I believe the legislation change was to allow the publications to be posted rather than any requirement being made for them to be published, if I recall correctly. It is likely due to to this that not all decisions are necessarily published.

There is a thread on here where we try to maintain a list of the decisions, although this is only a read only thread. It is here Pulished SSAT Decisions.. There have been only been 11 that have been published and that have made their way to austlii. The last was for a decision made on 21 May 2010.

I don't believe the CSA or SSAT have any interest in assisting people do what they likely consider to be their job, rather that they feel compelled to make some contributions. You should also look to find decisions that have gone to the Federal Magistrates Court, as often these (which are relatively rare) show that both the CSA and SSAT do not have a grasp of the legislation. You can find some such decisions here http://www.fmc.gov.au/judge/html/new.html. A look through some of these where SSAT is mentioned in the Family sections could assist in putting forward a matter of law.

My personal opinion is that as the CSA makes legislative decisions very much like a Judge or Magistrate, that every decision made by the CSA, as a registrar regarding legislation should be published. This has actually been put forward in regard to the change of assessment process, however I have no doubt whatsoever that the CSA will fight tooth and nail against this as I have no doubt whatsoever that the bias against the payer that the Ombudsman found in a recent report would be evident to all and would result in their bias having to change.
I am aware that each quarter SSAT forward a selection of 'decisions of interest' to the Dept Family Housing Comm Serv & Indigious Affairs where decisions where a particular point or issue are chosen for publiciation on AustLii and the CSA web site… this is after being de-identified of course, and to make sure that the decision being published is not under appeal in the Family Court.

Under Admin Law, any decision made by SSAT, as they are a Tribunal is not binding on CSA nor are previous decisions by SSAT binding upon any new decisions made by SSAT.

You are heaps better off to rely upon the Fed Mag Family Law decisions on SSAT appeals - there the law is laid down and must be followed.
Sure Valere, but folk are better off starting to lobby for simplification of the whole processes.  

Back to SSAT, my advice to anyone contemplating going is to treat the pre case conference as a bargaining session and to work out your bottom line before going there.  Chances are the other party will not be ready for the eagerness of the memebers to have a negotiated settlement, nor will tey be totally prepared for a negative outcome.  Avoid hearings if you can.
MikeT said
My personal opinion is that as the CSA makes legislative decisions very much like a Judge or Magistrate, that every decision made by the CSA, as a registrar regarding legislation should be published. This has actually been put forward in regard to the change of assessment process, however I have no doubt whatsoever that the CSA will fight tooth and nail against this as I have no doubt whatsoever that the bias against the payer that the Ombudsman found in a recent report would be evident to all and would result in their bias having to change.
  I agree entirely with this - my experience of the COA process was one of the SCO "arbitrarily" deciding on an assessment amount and the Objections Officer producing an Adjusted Taxable Income amount without showing how the amount was arrived at.
By an amazing coincidence, the assessment on the OO's ATI was the same as the arbitrary amount set by the SCO.

The CSA would certainly not want decisions like these published because they not only show the bias but also disregard for the legislation and the rights of their victims.
Seriously said
By an amazing coincidence, the assessment on the OO's ATI was the same as the arbitrary amount set by the SCO.
I too have been amazed at how frequently the same amounts crop up from radically differing methodologies. I'm aware of situations where the SCO has applied incompetently wrong accounting methods to wizard up figures which have then been successfully objected to (which I believe very likely means, within the CSA, oops this person is very likely to proceed further and our gross incompetence and disregard for the legislation will be impossible to hide, therefore we'd better do something) and then the SCO has magically devised another method of not having to calculate another amount by using years old business loan applications to support their disregard for the legislation and for their code of conduct and all Australians bar the recipient and them-self.

Privacy and the SSAT process

Just to throw a spanner in the works, and raise another issue…..

The current legislation allows for both parties to be provided all CSA documents that go to the SSAT as an appeal.  This is all documents whether relevant or not (as CSA considers all documents relevant - for example Electoral roll records of a persons address, or the chasis numbers of a motor vehicle obtained through state based motor registration departments)

The problem with this is if a party elects not to participate (dare I say the one not lodging the appeal) then they are given free unfettered access to documents from CSA.

Perhaps it is just me - but I have a serious problem with this legislation which basically allows the distribution of private information to a person who in reality should not have access to it if they do not want to be involved.

Shame it does not work the other way around (ie: a payer not wanting to be involved with CSA and not providing any onformation)

So just be warned - if you go to the SSAt you will be asked to supply a financial statement within 14 days and this staement WILL be given to the other party (even if they do not intend to be involved)
somewhereinoz9 said
The current legislation allows for both parties to be provided all CSA documents that go to the SSAT as an appeal.  This is all documents whether relevant or not (as CSA considers all documents relevant - for example Electoral roll records of a persons address, or the chasis numbers of a motor vehicle obtained through state based motor registration departments)

I don't believe that the legislation does allow this albeit in a convoluted way. That is any person making such a decision within the CSA is bound by the APS code of conduct, which includes it being against the code of conduct to not adhere to all Australian legislation, which includes the privacy act. I believe the privacy act requires a need for use. Thus electoral roll details, car chassis numbers and the like are beyond this need and thus a contravention of the privacy act and thus a contravention of the APS code of conduct. If a person from the CSA has given such information then I would ask them exactly how the chassis number is relevant in the calculation of amounts for a departure from the formula. Obviously if it is relevant then you could tell them that you have inadvertantly got the chassis number wrong and thus they will obviously need to come up with a changed child support amount as a result.

What does happen is that you get, with matters sent to SSAT by the CSA, is that SSAT say that it's the CSA responsibility and that SSAT say that it's the CSA's responsibility and of course nobody does anything.

Adherence to Privacy legislation is something the the SPCA is trying to have enforced.

Actual Comment

Hi MikeT

Yes tried to argue the point about relevance - the SSAT approach is that the CSA is required to provide all documents relevant to the appeal as per legislation.  The CSA response it is not their responsibility to determine what is / is not relevant to an SSAT appeal.

The SSAT response is it is up to the SSAT board to determine what is / is not relevant.

So of course everything is then given to the SSAT (in my case over 230 pages of information which included even doctors names and medical bills paid in relation to a third party)

Of course by this time it is to late, as the legisaltion allows for all documents to be sent.  So by law - it is legal and the privacy commissioner will not look at it under IPP 11 (if I recall correctly)

Here is an actual response from the SSAT to prove my point about this problem.

"The tribunal is including [ommitted] as a party to the appeal.  The expectation of the tribunal is that each party will complete a fully completed Statement of Financial Circumstances in order to remain a party to the appeal.  The Child Support Agency documents are due to be received by the Tribunal on [date ommitted].  The other party can request to be removed as a party after receiving the CSA documents. "

As you point out this is when the "buck passing" occurs between CSA and SSAt and all issues of privacy are ignored !!

Of course the other problem with this is the CSA actually never even allowed this matter to progress to the CoA stage….so is the other party actually even a party if it never even got to the CoA stage?

The issue at hand in this case is the payee actually had an increase in income - and has never actually even filled out a CSA or SSAT financial circumstances statement since 2008, and it has all gone by reported lodged tax statements.  The other problem is CSA refuses to lodge a s120 notice on the payee about her "windfalls" from the local state government lottery agency which she has been a member of since the whole child support debacle began over 10 years ago.

Hopefully, as you say the SPCA will get this changed as the local MP is a waste of time writing to
Ah yes, relevence. CSA thought it was relevent to tell my partners ex that I was the CSA Representative for our family. Didn't that cause a stir………but apparently the ex needed to know that……
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