Annual Report 2016-17

Child Support

The department assisted separating and separated families to ensure their children were supported through the Child Support Program. This included working with other government departments and other agencies to give separated parents access to the full range of government and community support services.

Child support assessment, registration, collection and disbursement services were provided to parents and non-parent carers such as grandparents, legal guardians, or other family members. The department also provided separated parents with a range of referral services and information to help them with their child support needs.

The person entitled to receive child support payments can choose to collect their payment privately or ask the department to collect them on their behalf.

Child support transfers

In 2016-17 the department worked with separated parents to facilitate the transfer of $3.5 billion to support approximately 1.2 million children.

Table: Amount of child support transferred between parents
Total child support transferred 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Child Support Collect $1.5 billion $1.5 billion $1.5 billion
Private Collect(a) $2.0 billion $2.0 billion $2.0 billion
Total $3.5 billion $3.5 billion $3.5 billion
  1. The amount of Private Collect transferred assumes 100 per cent of Private Collect is collected.

Private collect

The department encourages separated parents to manage their child support responsibilities independently through Private Collect arrangements. In 2016-17, 52.3 per cent of cases used Private Collect arrangements.

Child support collect

Parents can ask the department to collect and transfer their child support. In 2016-17 the department collected and transferred $1.5 billion.

Child support debt under a payment arrangement

The table below outlines the percentage of child support debt the department has under a payment arrangement.

Table: Percentage of child support debt under a payment arrangement
  2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Child support debt under an arrangement 39.1 37.4 37.7

Active paying parents with debt under arrangement and without debt

Active paying parents are responsible for paying child support in at least one active child support case when there is a current or future liability. The data below does not include cases that ended with arrears where there is no current liability but child support is still owed.

Of all active paying parents 76.3 per cent did not have a debt at the end of June 2017. Of the active paying parents with a debt, 50.6 per cent had a payment arrangement in place in 2016 - 17.

The table below shows the percentage of active paying parents who do not have a child support debt as a proportion of all active paying parents. It also shows the percentage of active paying parents with a child support debt and a payment arrangement in place, expressed as a proportion of all active paying parents with a child support debt. The department focuses on reducing debt through its compliance and enforcement programs.

Table: Percentage of active paying parents with debt under arrangement and without debt
  2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Active paying parents without debt 75.8 76.3 76.3
Active paying parents with a child support debt which is under a payment arrangement 51.9 51.8 50.6

Change of assessment decisions

In 2016-17 the number of change of assessment in special circumstances applications received was 18,726. More than 50 per cent of these applications resulted in a change to the rate of child support, better reflecting the special circumstances of parents and their children. More than 60 per cent of applications were about parent’s income, property, financial resources, or earning capacity.

The number of objections to change of assessment decisions were 2,891 in 2016-17. The original change of assessment decision was affirmed in 60 per cent of these objections. Of those not affirmed, it was often due to a parent providing new or more current information. Parents who object to child support decisions, including change of assessment, can expect to have a final decision within 60 days for domestic recipients (120 days for international recipients).

Child Support System Redesign Project

On 30 June 2017 the Child Support System Redesign (CSSR) Project delivered a staff facing user interface. This interface provides an enhanced staff experience and in particular incorporates new display features and additional controls for data entry.

The project has aligned itself to the broader departmental technology direction which is to utilise a single delivery platform across the department. A key highlight of CSSR Project has been to contribute to the department’s reusable technology patterns which will ensure a consistent approach to future development of payment systems.

The CSSR Project has focused on customer research and testing for the online channel. The CSSR Project continues to incorporate user feedback into online design. Final release of the online functionality is scheduled for financial year 2017-18.

Page last updated: 8 November 2017