Ensuring child support is paid to care for young Australians

The Morrison Government is introducing new measures to drive down unpaid child support, targeting child support owed by more than 18,000 parents to ensure children, and young people have access to the financial support they deserve.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the Government was investing $7.8 million to strengthen child support compliance activities and would legislate to enable child support debts to be recovered in more circumstances.

“Children must be at the centre of our decision making. We make no apologies for using tough measures to ensure the financial support children are entitled to is paid,” Minister Ruston said.

“The new approach will allow Services Australia to dock parents’ pay packet to repay child support in more circumstances including after a child turns 18. This overturns an existing loophole where it is effectively case closed once a child turns 18 and there are limited ways to recover a debt.

“The changes also apply to parents who have been overpaid child support because they earned more than they reported but held off putting in a tax return to avoid paying back the other parent.”

The total child support debt pool has been growing since 1988 and currently stands at $1.69 billion which includes debts related to active and closed cases. It is estimated that through these new measures about $164 million that relates to closed cases will be able to be recovered from 18,250 parents.

Minister Ruston said as our international borders reopen the Government was also strengthening the Departure Prohibition Order system which prevents parents who fail to pay child support from leaving Australia.

“Currently Services Australia must issue an exemption known as a Departure Authorisation Certificate if the parent provides a down payment on their debt,” Minister Ruston said.

“But, disappointingly, we know some parents will make a down payment so they can leave the country and have no intention of paying off the rest of their debt.

“This measure gives Services Australia the discretion to refuse an exemption if they have reason to believe the parent is likely to shirk their responsibilities and fail to pay back the remainder of the debt when they return to Australia.”

Since July 2017, 5,394 parents have been issued with a travel ban enabling the recovery of more than nearly $100 million.

“This is money that is helping to put food on the table and clothes on the backs of thousands of Australian children,” Minister Ruston said.

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