27 June, 2008



DADS IN DISTRESS INC Thursday, 26th June 2008

On Monday 23rd June 2008 Minister Joe Ludwig announced The (GET TOUGH) “Child Support Agency’s Compliance Strategy for 2008-2010: Supporting parents to meet their child support responsibilities” at the Child Support National Stakeholder Group in Parliament House.

1 - Optical surveillance program - Where separated parents tell the CSA they are not working and cannot pay their child support but there is evidence to indicate something else.

2 - Getting to the Assets - A new MOU with the insolvency and trustee Service of Australia. Enforcing payment by selling of assets.

3 - New Tax return lodgement rules - ALL child support parents to lodge tax returns unless income less than $18,252

4 - Salary sacrifice of Superannuation schemes will be added back for
calculation of income for Child Support

Tony Miller Founder/Director of Dads in Distress Inc who is a member of the CSNSEG group was present at the announcement and said he was shocked by the heavy handedness of the strategy but at the same time understood full well that a small minority were shirking their responsibilities and making it look bad for the rest of us.

The reality is although they are quoting a billion dollars of child support debt, $231 million of that is overseas debt and $255m is over 4 years old and some debt dates back nearly 20 years to the start of the scheme. It seems the majority is owed from people who are on very high incomes in private business or companies etc Mr Miller said. While this is no excuse Mr Miller said we are all now painted with the same brush when in reality it is a minority.

Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig said a small proportion of parents were not doing the right thing.

"Our group promotes that as a divorced dad you have the responsibility to continue to support your children both emotionally and financially and our members are doing just that. Unfortunately many are still fighting just to see their children even though they pay child support. It’s a shame that a similar compliance scheme with the same weight has not been rolled out to combat the issue of contravention of court ordered access. A smaller program was announced recently with little fanfare, nothing as glorious as these new provisions," Mr Miller said.

In the meeting Kathleen Swinbourne (Sole Parents Union) said: "Are you really serious about selling out houses from under these non payers as you have never been serious before?"

Matt Miller CSA said: " Selling peoples houses out from under them is a last resort. You know, we sometimes loose the metrics that 4 out of 5 parents do the right thing. We are very clearly serious about the overdue amounts. We must
have strong underpinning of the new reforms which are set out to make it fairer for both payer and payee. The pay dirt here is to get people with the capacity to pay TO pay. We have hired 120 investigators to investigate cases."

The agency is using employment withholding to collect 30 million a month.

Tony Miller said: "When you start talking about selling out houses you could ask the same question as to how many mothers will you jail who are breaking the law in non compliance to court orders denying children the right to see their fathers."

The reality is, these new provisions will also catch out those women who are abusing the system so in effect it works both ways. It’s about our kids and making sure they are looked after. All Dads in Distress ever wanted was fairness and equity within the system. Some of us feel it still has a long way to go.

And the unfortunate result in all this is that once again the deadbeat dad syndrome will be broadcast across the media painting us all with the same brush. Most dads are good dads who love and support their children and do the right thing.

Tony Miller
Dads In Distress Inc.
PO Box J395
Coffs Harbour Jetty
NSW 2450
Ph: 66 528113
Ph: 1300 853 437
MOB: 0422 105855

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