Reforms to Child Support legislation
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I am seeking people to sign this petition to assist every family in Australia that has to deal with the Department of Human Services Child Support Agency.
Legislation needs to be reformed to be fairer and managable for the families involved.
I personally have been dealing with this department for over a decade and can see both sides to the complicated system of broken families and the costs to raise the children in the fall out of such events.
In brief I have a blended family. I have a child from a previous relationships as does my husband. We also have 2x children together since our marriage. A total of 4 children between us.
I am a recieving parent who currently is owed thousands in arrears. DHSCS are not able to assist any further in the collection of arrear funds as they are bound by restrictions in its legislation. Essentially the support of my son now fully falls on myself and my now husband. The problem lies in that DHSCS does not recognize the support of my son by my husband on his Child Support File. He has always paid the required support for his child. He works hard to provide an honest living and we are an average family trying to make ends meet and keep our blended family together. If he works more to assist with supporting my son he gets penalised by an increase in his support payments to his son due to his income increasing.
The DHSCS legislation does not view my blended family as a whole. It doesn't look at our entire situation. It splits our family and applies its legislation to the desired parts of each individuals account. But when we seek assistance from other government departments we are looked at as a household income and/or blended family and we miss out on any benefits or assistance through other avenues.
We are constantly going through 'Change of Assessments' where we have to open up our private lives and personal financial information. Not that we persoanlly have anything ro hide but continyally bearing your sole, finacial state of affairs and even medical history to fully support your case is taxing on the soul.
The stress in dealing with the DHSCS with depression, anxiety, insomnia and in some cases suicide is a real and increasing stastic in our society and nothing is being done to help. I myself now make up a number in these statics as it has contributed to health issues I am now enduring.
The current DHSCS system doesn't work. Every families circumstances are different. This isn't a petition to help people to dodge their responsibilities and obligations to their children nor is it about bagging out the parents who are favourable in the eyes of the agency.I want to see real changes made to the legislation to allow all families on both sides to be able to provide support to their current home, whilst paying parents pay a reasonable amount to support any of their children from previous relationships. Whilst recieving parents are capped on payments depending on their new combined household earning capacity.
A couple of notable key factors in the legislation that I feel need to be reformed are:
1. Changes to how the department calculate the support. Reforms need to look at the entire household income at both homes, earning capacity, assets and combined expenses. Currently the system only looks at the individual 2x parents of the child support child. This creates an issue as most of the time women earn less and are the at home carer which then increases the support payments their ex partner has to pay. People can enter a new relationship with a billionaire and decide not to work and the ex partner has to then pay top support payments. This is not fair, equitable, just or in the best interest of anyone but a receiving parent.
2. Stop incentives to get a 'recieving parents' increase payments by using the 'time a child spends with a parent' in its calculations. From personal experience and from speaking to others it appears children are in some cases manipulated to not spending time with a parent for finacial gain. This is not good for the family unit. A child needs to spend quality time with both families (that is if it is a safe and healthy environment to do so)
As a subsequent issue of the care percentage, legislation in regards to children who are in the teens needs to be reviewed. If a child is too busy with school, work and sport commitments and can no longer visit one parent why should that parent be penalised by paying double the support payments. It's bad enough you don't see your child as often as you want/need but to then have to be finacially penalised is a double blow. If a parent plan is in place and a child or the child's parent decides not to adhere to the agreed plan it shouldn't affect the DHSCS payments. In the current system it is too easy to phone up and say Joey is staying with me now 100%, bam change of payment approved. There is nothing in the family law or DHSCS legislation to ensure parenting plans are adhered to.
3. The investigative powers of the DHSCS are minimal. They are essentially a collection agency that has limted powers to collect information and/or debt. Unless information is provided to the agency by the requesting client they are limited by legislation, funding and staff to maintain a high level care to the millions of famalies that are caught up in their system. I personally can claim this has been my experience based on my circumstances. I am in a position where there is nothing the department can do to source my arrears. My sons father just refuses to pay, to speak with the deparment, to losge tax returns Etc -as a result I get no assistance. My arrears accure. I get told to find out more information to assist collectiob and then they may be able to help. My current husband asks me 'what's from stopping me from paying my support...?' Well the extreme opposite of legislation is then applied in his circumstances whereby the department can garnish his tax return, his wages etc without notice. The legislation is geared up towards aiding those evading their responsibilities and fully laying down the law to those parents trying to do the right thing but get caught in debt by assisting the processes. It needs to be heavier on those simply evading the process and give credit to those parents trying to do the right thing instead of treating them like the 'deadbeats' they can't seem to locate.
4. Support for families in the system is basically non existent. I have tried to get assistance for Change of Assessment processes. I have been to Legal Aid ( If you earn over $20k you are not eligible) I have been to community law centres. Only some can help with family law and some do child support related issues. If you mention Change of Assessment the response is 'This is a specialised field, sorry we can't help or are not funded to be able to assist'. Unless you have thousands of dollars to get a private lawyer (approx $4500 for mediation and $360 per hour for assistance with the case) it is not an affordable option for the average family. We are an average family and caught in the system of having to just deal with it. I am sure we are not the only family in this country stuck.
Calling the DHSCS for advice is not fruitful as many consultants give differing and often incorrect information. The legislation itself is open to interpretation of the assessor which in many cases leads to ill informed decisions and/or decisiobs made by staff with a power trip or personal preferance to given party. The department needs more funding to help parents on both sides to get through the legislation nightmare of the Change of Assessment process.
If you agree that reforms to the legislation are urgently required in our country. If you agree that more funding needs to be given to this department to assist and support families. If you agree changes need to be made for the good of the greater community and the good of healthier more stabilised family units, please sign this petition so I can send it to our government via our local politicians including Hon Christian Porter MP (Federal Member) and to Mr Hank Jongen general manger of DHSCS
**please note every families circumstances are different and these points may not be relevant to all people in the DHSCS system. This is not intended to offend or to be used as a negative or abusive tool but rather an action to put positive and helpful information forward to make the required changes.
Should you wish to send in your own personal experiences with the petition pleas email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will ensure they are sent in. Any negative, threatening or abusive emails will not be accepted.
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