Reference source: Courier MailMay 05, 2008 12:00am
FATHERS in Queensland are the nation's worst offenders when it comes to shirking child-support payments.
New data shows many parents, most of them fathers living in southeast Queensland, have turned their backs on their children.
Child Support Agency statistics show parents at Broadbeach, Mermaid Beach and Palm Beach, on the Gold Coast, and Deception Bay, north of Brisbane, are the least likely to meet their child-support payments.
CSA has ranked the 10 postcodes with the worst payment rates, seven of which are in Queensland.
About 5 per cent of parents across the nation failed to pay any maintenance in the past financial year, even if they only had to cough up $10 a week. CSA has refused to further clarify the Gold Coast statistics.
Commentators said unemployment and the high number of single parents in the region could be the cause.
Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig has refused to say whether the federal Budget, released next Tuesday, will fund more child-support compliance measures.
However, Senator Ludwig said he would crack down on tight-fisted parents ahead of a new child-support formula starting from July.
He said while most people in the identified suburbs did the right thing some were putting themselves first.
Data shows 11 per cent of families on the Gold Coast are single-parent and men are responsible for the majority of child-support payments.
Senator Ludwig" saidHuman relations is a complex area but there's no excuse for parents not to look after their kids.
I'm determined to make sure as many parents as possible meet their obligations.
Federal MP for Moncrieff Steven Ciobo said the Gold Coast's population boom also contributed to the disturbing trends.
MP for Moncrieff Steven Ciobo saidThere are two very big industries (on the Gold Coast), tourism and retail. These two industries count for a large percentage of employment for single parents with a relatively low skill base.
People come (to the Gold Coast) for a fresh start and employment.
A CSA spokesman saidThe data did not prove Queensland parents were the worst parents in the nation.
There could be many reasons why one community has a higher concentration of fully-paid child support cases than another.
According to Mission Australia, the Gold Coast's problems are exacerbated by relatively high unemployment, low wages in the hospitality sector and higher living costs.
Mission Australia's Brian Saxton-Hillier yesterday saidThe Gold Coast was a hotspot for financial and family stress.
It's becoming more prevalent.
The Gold Coast has this great shiny veneer but underneath it's a different story. There are million dollar houses here on the Gold Coast, where there is no food in the fridge.
At the other end of the scale the top paying areas in the nation were Blackbutt - 150km northwest of Brisbane - and Thuringowa (Townsville).
Mr Saxton-Hillier saidThe level of family breakdown on the Coast was inflated by those who arrived seeking a "dream life" that did not work out.
People are being pushed over the edge, We're getting to the tipping point here faster than other places . . . because everyone here normally lives so close to the edge.
The data comes as the CSA predicts the amount parents pay in child support could decrease under a scheme that starts within weeks.
The new formula will take account of each parent's level of care and how much it costs to care for their children.
However, the CSA said the family tax benefit scheme would compensate parents who received less money.
Additional reporting Melanie Christiansen