List of Expected Government Actions on Parliamentary Inquiry

The following lists the Government’s responses which mention some action based on recommendations of the 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry (Recommendation # listed in brackets) :

When the new Child Support computer system is available, the Government will seek to publish additional child support demographic and program information on data.gov.au (2)

The Government will conduct a review of the use of the “capacity to earn” criteria for making change of assessment decisions to ensure that these provisions are providing appropriate outcomes for separated families (10)

The Government will consider amendments to section 56(2) of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 to allow the Registrar to take amended tax assessments into account in a broader range of circumstances.(12)

The Government will evaluate the efficacy of current communications processes to child support payments by applying behavioural insights, including by conducting randomised control trials where relevant. A review of all child support letters and forms is underway to coincide with the implementation of the new child support computer system.(16)

The Government supports the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) conducting a performance audit of the Child Support Program’s legal enforcement procedures (20)

The Government agrees that including review points and dispute resolution provisions in a mediated parenting agreement is appropriate. However, the Government does not agree that enforcement provisions should be included in parenting agreements. Where parties consider that enforceable agreements are necessary, including where an agreement includes financial matters, it is recommended that they obtain parenting orders made by consent in a family law court.(3)

The Government agrees to a review of the following components of the child support formula:
 the self-support amount and the indexation mechanism;
 the cost of children table and indexation mechanism;
 the use of gross income levels. (5)

The Government will investigate the best ways to ensure the lodgement of tax returns as part of the support of the Child Support Program. This will include an examination of the way in which the current penalty regime is enforced and how it could be improved, including the regularity of enforcement, and the nature and size of the penalty. (7)

The Government will review the provisions that enable a change from the amount payable under a formula assessment. The interaction of the non-agency payment provisions in relation to school fees will also be reviewed.(11)

The Government considers that there is scope to take a more active approach towards quality assurance and overall program assurance in the Child Support Program. The Government will also assess the most useful and transparent way of publishing quality assurance outcome data in future annual reports.(13)

The Government will help families to be better aware of the two methods through enhancements to a range of communication options, including information on the DHS website and through existing contact points with families (14)

The Government therefore supports the maintenance of processes that allow separated families to nominate their preferred contact arrangements and to place restrictions on certain types of contact or the times at which contact occurs. The preferred communication arrangements of separated families should only be departed from where required by legislation or to ensure compliance with their obligations.(18)

Services available to child support parents via online services continue to evolve, including with a specific Child Support App. As the DHS service strategy continues to evolve, including utilisation of digital opportunities, the department will continue to consider the needs of child support parents. (15)

The Government will continue to draw on existing resources such as the Child Support Reform Study and future waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), to periodically review the circumstances of child support parents, including parents who use private collect arrangements. (19)

The Government considers that there are considerable procedural and legislative safeguards already built into the departure prohibition order framework that provide liable parents with opportunities to discuss their financial situation before the making of a departure prohibition order, and to appeal the making of one afterwards. The Government also notes that travel can be approved for liable parents in appropriate circumstances, even after the making of a departure prohibition order. However, the Government will examine the criteria for making departure prohibition orders against liable parents who reside outside of Australia, considering the potential impact they may have on such parents, particularly on their employment prospects. (21)

The department’s Family and Domestic Violence Risk Identification and Referral process ensures staff are actively identifying family and domestic violence concerns, and providing targeted referrals to specialised service providers in the community or departmental social workers. This model recognises the expertise of professional staff and community providers and aligns with DHS’s mission of connecting Australians to the services they need. This expertise currently exists across the department. (24)

The payment of government family assistance is currently payable at a higher rate if child support payments collected by the Department of Human Services are not received and would otherwise have reduced the rate payable, and this will continue to apply.(25)