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New measures in relation to child support

In commenting on the press statement issued yesterday by Senator Joe Ludwig, the Minister for Human Services, Mr Barry Williams (LFAA) and Mr Wayne Butler (SPCA) today indicated support for the Minister's initiative in putting in place new measures aimed at boosting the collection of child support payments to ensure children of separated parents receive the support they deserve.

The LFAA and the SPCA have reservations and qualifications about some of the measures, however.

Covert optical surveillance on both payers and payees should be used with careful restraint, and there should be explicit protections in relation to the type of information which may be collected, and the types of use that may be made of such information.

The new arrangements in relation to the seizing of assets of a small number of recalcitrant payers need to be administered with a proper sensitivity.  Some assets, e.g., motor vehicles, may be essential to the earning of a parent's income, from which the children will potentially benefit. There must be great sensitivity employed where clients are under financial and emotional pressures, given that lack of sensitivity in the past has led to some suicides.

Measures and involvement of the ATO through new tax regulations requiring both parents to lodge a tax return are a very positive step, particularly as the CSA has had problems in the lead up to the introduction of the new Scheme as from 1 July 2008 in accessing accurate information about the incomes of some payee residential parents.

The LFAA and the SPCA look forward to an early announcement by the Minister as to the measures which he proposes to take to deal with the numerous cases where child support is levied (and paid) but contact is denied.

We are also looking forward to the Child Support Agency taking a more holistic approach to supporting the children through a range of additional measures, not just financial support.

Wayne Butler from the Shared Parenting Council said
Supporting children involves more than just a financial contribution.

Barry Williams                                          Wayne Butler
President                                                Executive Secretary
Lone Fathers' Association (Australia) Inc.     Shared Parenting Council of Australia

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