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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14932

Child Support

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your letter dated 18 February 2019 regarding petition EN0787 to the House of Representatives requesting a review of the child support system.

The petitioners may be interested to know that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs conducted an inquiry into the child support scheme. The Committee's report makes 25 recommendations relating to policy, legislation and administration of the child support scheme, family law (including the funding of family support services), and the enforcement of tax return lodgement. The report, From conflict to cooperation: inquiry into the Child Support Program, is available on the Committee's website at www.aph.gov.au/childsupport.

The Australian Government's response to the Committee's recommendations was tabled in Parliament on 31 August 2016, and agrees with 18 of the 25 recommendations. This included enhancing existing support mechanisms, using new tools and information, and considering new insights and approaches to achieve improved outcomes for separated families. The Government's response is available on the Department of Social Services website at www.dss.gov.au/childsupportinquiryresponse.

Progress is being made in implementing the agreed recommendations, with 12 recommendations completed to date. The three recommendations with the greatest impact for parents and children in the child support system were prioritised and included in the Family Assistance and Child Support Legislation Amendment (Protecting Children) Act 2018.

This legislation was passed by Parliament on 9 May 2018 and the various child support measures began either after the granting of Royal Assent (on 22 May 2018) or from 1 July 2018. These changes:

strengthen incentives for parents to comply with court orders or participate in dispute resolution processes about care;

enable amended tax assessments and changes that affect child support agreements to be more easily reflected without parents having to go to court; and

treat payees with overpaid child support more consistently with payers with debts.

Of the remaining recommendations, three are being considered by other agencies and the others require a measured approach and careful consideration of the complexities involved.

The Government is committed to helping families manage their responsibilities for their children following separation and will continue to monitor the effect of child support legislation.

Thank you for raising this matter with me. I hope the information in this letter is of some help.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Families and Social Services, Mr Fletcher(Petition No. EN0787)