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Letter to the Minister

Feel free to copy and paste this and email it to the Minister DHS if you see it as a feasible solution. I have also been in touch with Four Corners (for reasons of decency and quality I won't go near any commercial current affairs programs) so it's all I can do to make the CS system fairer for payers. For now.

The below is open for comments and feedback.


Senator Carr et al,

I trust this email finds you well.

I would like to offer my solution, recommendation if you will, of how the myriad problems concerning the Child Support Agency (CSA) could be fixed so that the numerous and proven inadequacies and the unwavering anti-payer bias could be eliminated both legislatively and monetarily.

At present, the CSA has a known and thoroughly documented history of extreme nepotistic conduct relative only to those in receipt of child support payments ('payees'). Not only is this unfair in that it automatically ensures procedural fairness for one party to a case, it's also incredibly frustrating and distressing for the opposing party.

The major cause for concern is the exemption from judicial review afforded CSA staff under Schedule 1(s) of the Administrative Decisions (judicial review) Act 1977 in making decisions under Part 6A of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, specifically departures from administrative assessments, normally phrased by CSA as "Change(s) of Assessment."

Having dedicated many hundreds of hours to researching matters CSA, I would like to submit to you a proposal which would see all parties receive fair treatment from CSA and would  also reduce the running costs of an arguably irreparable agency wrought with inconsistency, error, and reputedly, malice. The core aspect of my proposal is the abolition of CSA as a stand alone agency; its judge like and all but uninfringeable authority diluted so that it remains an entity only for collection of arrears, debts to the Commonwealth, and unpaid child support.

Although I don't have the luxury of an economics degree or actuarial staff, I am confident that the changes detailed below would remove the root cause of a huge number of disputes centring around CSA income determinations; the disparate state of taxation law and child support income determinations.


A simplified outline of how I would achieve a fair and cost effective child support system:

1. Abolish CSA and absorb required staff into Centrelink and/or Family Assistance Office (FAO).



2. CSA functions then performed by ATO (income determinations and using only adjusted taxable income as per ATO assessed income) and Centrelink and/or FAO made solely responsible for administration of care levels affecting child support cases.

3. No Part 6A exemption from judicial review. Rules of evidence now apply.

4. If required, CSA staff do debt collection for the ATO as a division thereof.

5. Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) remains but no longer has a child support branch due to ATO determining income. Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) can address appeals involving care levels as they do already. In essence, if the SSAT remains involved their decisions should be accessible, of course with identities redacted as required.

6. Remaining CSA staff made redundant.






I see little wrong with my plan in broad terms. Gov't would still enjoy FTB claw back for child support paid, overall department numbers would be reduced thus meaning both short and long term cost savings, and above all, those who are supposed to be served by public servants rather than subject to a veiled dictatorship operating free of consequence would be treated accordingly.

No doubt this will need refinement and may well be flawed but if I can do anything which improves our current child support system I feel compelled to act.


As a matter of openness I will advise at this point that I am a payer of child support but have no arrears, debts or decisions pending for or against. I just want a fair system.

A huge number of votes would and potentially will be influenced by child support reform.

I thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope to hear from you soon.

Regards,
[REDACTED]
Sleepy, I wish you luck with you thoughful attempt to create change in the system.  I disagree however that the CS system is biased in favour of the "payee".  

There are "payees" (the real payee is the child) who get a rough deal too.

My ex got a massive six figure redundancy payout and then decided not to work any more so that he has minimum child support liabilty (and I mean minimum).

Redundancy payout is not income according to CSA so he pays absolute minimum CS, does not contact or spend time with kids, and has a nice bank balance, while I pay for everything myself.

Good luck with you endeavours.


Hi April,

          I won't disagree with you. In cases like yours the payer should contribute. The problem is that we're all treated as he should be and everything is seen by CSA as some devious act of trickery to avoid paying. It's simply not the case. Tarring many because of the few genuine "deadbeat dads."

I have CSA in my sights (no, not literally) and by implementing my plan I can destroy CSA and the public coffers would be better for it. Sure it's a vendetta but one with a definite purpose.
Probably would have been better to just address CSA's inadequacies and exemption from judicial review instead of seeking to abolish them as abolishing the CSA will be seen as attacking the rights of women and children.
April said
….
My ex got a massive six figure redundancy payout and then decided not to work any more so that he has minimum child support liabilty (and I mean minimum).

Redundancy payout is not income according to CSA
Where did you get that information from? That is definitely not what I believe the situation to be. It is not exempletd from the formula. It would depend on when that income was taken up (In which period) as to when it was considered.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
Secretary SPCA said
April said
….
My ex got a massive six figure redundancy payout and then decided not to work any more so that he has minimum child support liabilty (and I mean minimum).

Redundancy payout is not income according to CSA
Where did you get that information from? That is definitely not what I believe the situation to be. It is not exempted from the formula. It would depend on when that income was taken up (In which period) as to when it was considered.
 
The CSA gave me that information.

I will give them another call. Thanks for the heads up!

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

Hi All,

After reading this post, I just wanted to ask….

Sleepy.

What response did you get from 4 corners.

I am interested in this as I have a number of issues, some of which you have read in my other posts.

I would absolutely love to see 4 corners question the Minister for Human Services to explain how the C$A system does not have appropriate checks and balances in place given the significant impact of their subsequent decisions when dealing with it's customers.

I for one could scribe the opening question as Follows :

"Minister Carr, thank you for joining us. Tonight I would like you to explain how the C$A system can justify sending out a letter dated 17th January 2013, requesting a customer of C$A (in this case a Payer) to contact the C$A by the 3rd January 2013."

If the response is along the lines of,

"Well clearly there is an administrative error to do with the contact date and I will see this matter is investigated. I want to reassure customers of the C$A, our processes are designed as such so as to ensure sufficient time is allowed for a person to make contact so we can properly assess the details to make an informed decision about a particular issue that is the subject for a clear and specific request to provide information"   or similar.

Then the next follow-up question could be along the lines,

"Minister, that being the case, why are there no processes in place whenever the C$A issues a subsequent letter advising that a 'consequence' for failing to contact the C$A within a specified time frame of a previous letter has been checked to ensure an adequate time frame for the response has actually been provided in the first instance before sending out the 'big stick" response.  

"Surely, it would be prudent for the department you are responsible to have a system in place to see that these types of occurrences are actually validated by someone to check for these types of errors."

"Our information reveals this is not an isolated occurrence and these types of errors are systemic, I'd like to show you and invite your comment on

this example…and this example…and this example…and this example… and this example…and this example…and this example…,

and

No Minister, I do not have a stutter…"

Sleepy, I'm sure 4 corners could come up with a better script, if you had a positive response from them, I would appreciate the name of the person you spoke too, I for one am more than happy to provide the examples. for the basis of a story.

Sent this morning:
Senator Carr et al,
 
                          I have been advised by a CSA staff member that the 'Customer review team' received the below correspondence. The fact that I didn't receive a reply from your office is disappointing however I do appreciate the fact that it has at least been forwarded.
 
Whilst receiving notification from CSA was encouraging, I was hoping that my proposal would be assessed by a suitably qualified and experienced authority external to CSA. Considering that the points I put forward are focussed on procedural fairness and the removal of entrenched institutional bias, the nature of said points, notably large scale redundancies within the agency would for obvious reasons attract no support or genuine interest as the staff judging the merits of my ideas would potentially be making recommendations which may see their own employment terminated. I would not begrudge any staff member exercising reluctance with decisions or professional opinions which may render their livelihood untenable, but this is not a matter of preserving the incomes of a small number of public servants. This is an egalitarian matter. Fairness, equality and furthering the public interest must be held paramount.
 
Could you please advise whether it is possible to have treasury staff make a preliminary assessment of that which I have proposed and advise me of the outcome(s)?
 
Thank you once again for taking the time to read this and I hope to hear from you soon.
 
Regards,
THD,
When I contacted Four Corners I received an email reply advising that they'd be in touch if/when they were willing and able to investigate but nothing since. I think it might be time for a more concerted approach so feel free to contact them via the Four Corners website and don't hold back!
Just to keep you updated, I am still waiting for a response to my questions that I asked my MP, Rob Oakeshott to reply to back in December. I have sent a reminder email, and was informed that I would be hearing from Mr Oakeshott the following week. That was about 3 weeks ago.

ACA, although not quite as reputable as 4 corners, did run a story back on the 6 March. The link is below.

http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article/8621991/child-support-outrage

A child is a gift, not a weapon. To be a parent is a privilege, one which unfortunately some parents do not deserve.
Not bad for a "lead-up" segment however it barely scratched the surface of the problems associated with the CSA.  This is why four corners (or a similar program willing to allocate sufficient airtime) needs to investigate them.

BTW, Hank Jongen is a moron.  How dare he insinuate that ALL payers are corrupt/cheats (by stating that ALL payers will try and reduce their payments).  There's no chance of change with idiots like him running the show!
The most bemusing aspect of the ACA story I thought, was when asked would they review bad decisions, they used the standard cop-out of "we will investigate that we have adhered to the rules" (probably not accurate quote).

One of the main issues is the RULES!!
Then comes issues with the administration of these flawed Rules..
But wait, there's more!

Received on Friday:

Good Afternoon Mr [REDACTED],

Thank you for your email to Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Human Services.

I am able to confirm that we have received your correspondence and it is currently being investigated. You will receive a letter of reply from the Minister once the matters have been fully investigated. Due to the volume of correspondence this office receives it may take a number of weeks for you to receive a complete response.

Kindest Regards,

James

Office of Senator the Hon Kim Carr | Minister for Human Services
Wishing you luck Sleepy and a large box of panadol for the constant ache in your head from slamming it against the brick wall.
Hi Julco,

          CSA style logic would dictate that you are indeed correct but the current political and economic climate suggests that if it'll win votes and/or save money then that'll be what gets the minister's attention. I'm not expecting my efforts to amount to anything but one can only try.

For the record, I broke that brick wall years ago dealing with a gold digging ex wife and terribly apathetic solicitor.

My next step will be to push the issue from a ministerial and fiscal responsibility angle.
Just found another link to the ACA story, as it seems that the first one may not be active anymore?

Works better if it is copied and pasted into your browser;

http://video.au.msn.com/watch/video/child-support-outrage/x6zoaof

A child is a gift, not a weapon. To be a parent is a privilege, one which unfortunately some parents do not deserve.
Update:

I've been contacted by CSA again. I did point out that I don't qualify for personal services (strict criteria apply as per the PI) but it seems as though it's standard practice for CSA to appoint a PSO to anyone seeking ministerial intervention. I won't get my hopes up but at least I know I'm getting right up their noses.

It continues…

Another ACA segment

ACA have another segment up on their website http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/

They are asking for those involved in a current dispute with the CSA to contact them by email or phone.

I am still awaiting reply from Local MP…..

A child is a gift, not a weapon. To be a parent is a privilege, one which unfortunately some parents do not deserve.
I prompted CSA for a response on Monday. Their customer review team last accessed their copy of my letter on the 18th of March. They have stated that they will respond but the matter is currently being overseen by CSA legal so it may take some time. I'll post the response once I receive it.
Sleepy, I think you have CSA on the back foot!! Well done. We need to be constantly on their backs, like they are on ours. Persistence and public shame is the only way to bring their malpractice into the spotlight.
The Minister DHS replied. I'm struggling to find where my 45K tax per year goes because it certainly doesn't pay for decent ministers of government or a fair and sensible child support agency.

She (the Minister) basically ignored my proposed changes to child support via the abolition of CSA and stated that her department goes to great lengths to ensure that procedural fairness and equitable treatment are held paramount.

What a crock. If she'd handed me such a written response in person I would've thrown it at her. I'd really like to see her reaction if she was a payer and found herself being probed for income information, asked about personal finances, tried to submit an income estimate which may reduce a CS liability or a reason 8 CoA against a professional student or stubborn single mother. Sadly, that's not possible.

I will continue to push the issue with CSA (who still have yet to respond to the original letter which was sent to them IN JANUARY!) and starting very shortly, Minister DHS' opposite number.

Feel free to offer suggestions if there are any other pressing issues you'd like raised.

Regards,
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