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Christmas travel warning to child support defaulters



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M e d i a R e l e a s e

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

Minister for Human Services

Minister for Social Inclusion

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas travel warning to child support defaulters

Separated parents planning overseas travel this Christmas may be prevented

from leaving the country if they owe child support, the Minister for Human

Services Tanya Plibersek has warned.

She said the Child Support Agency has the power to issue Departure

Prohibition Orders to parents with overdue child support who refuse to

cooperate with the agency to repay the debt.

“The Gillard Labor Government is committed to ensuring that children with

separated parents are getting the financial support they need,” said Ms

Plibersek.

“Christmas can be a difficult time for separated families, not only emotionally,

but financially too. So if parents have an outstanding debt they can ring the

Child Support Agency and talk through their options.”

Ms Plibersek said that in the last financial year, $3.36 million had been

collected through departure orders issued against 183 customers. The Child

Support Agency currently has 841 departure orders in place.

Ms Plibersek said that while most separated parents payed child support

without falling into arrears, some with significant debts had refused multiple

opportunities offered by the agency to make a payment arrangement.

“We would prefer not to spoil anyone’s holiday plans but when it comes to

children who have gone without payments for a significant period of time, the

agency has no choice but to issue these orders.”

Ms Plibersek said the departure orders were one of several measures the

agency used to recoups money from non-compliant parents.

• Early intervention contact with parents who have missed a child

support payment for the first time;

• Employer withholdings from wages and salaries of paying parents;

• Interception of tax refunds and enforcement of tax return lodgements

with assistance from the Australian Tax Office;

• Investigations into income minimisation;

• Litigation and prosecution in serious cases;

• Use of optical surveillance in a small number of serious cases.

Ms Plibersek said in the last financial year the agency managed 839,925

cases and worked with separated parents to transfer $2.98 billion. The

number of cases in arrears was 62,508 or 7.4 per cent of total caseload.

“The good news is the number and proportion of actively paying parents

without a child support debt is steadily increasing,” she said.

Parents who have overdue child support and need to travel overseas for work

or personal reasons should phone the Child Support Agency on 131 272 to

discuss a suitable payment arrangement.

Media contact: Minister Plibersek’s office, Simon Crittle 0437 370 438