Child Support (Program 1.3)

The Child Support Scheme aims to ensure that children receive an appropriate level of financial support from parents who are separating or separated.

The department delivers the scheme. The department provides child support assessment, registration, collection and disbursement services to parents and non‑parent carers such as grandparents, legal guardians or other family members. A range of referral services and products is also provided to separated parents and non‑parent carers to help them with their child support needs.

The person entitled to receive the child support payments can elect to transfer child support privately (Private Collect) or ask the department to collect on their behalf (Child Support Collect).

The department has compliance and enforcement programs to ensure that payments are made.

The department also assesses parents’ applications to have their child support payments reviewed based on changes of circumstances.

Child support transfers

In 2017–18 the department worked with separated parents to facilitate the transfer of $3.6 billion to support approximately 1.2 million children.

Table 41: Child support transferred between parents




Child Support Collect

$1.5 billion

$1.5 billion

$1.6 billion

Private CollectSee footnote(a)

$2.0 billion

$2.0 billion

$2.0 billion


$3.5 billion

$3.5 billion

$3.6 billion

  1. The amount of Private Collect transferred assumes 100% of Private Collect is collected.

Private Collect

Private Collect is used by parents who can make and receive payments directly between themselves.

The department encourages separated parents to manage their child support responsibilities independently through Private Collect.

In 2017–18, 52% of cases used Private Collect.

Child Support Collect

If parents cannot transfer their payments directly, the department can collect and transfer their child support payments for them through Child Support Collect.

In 2017–18, $1.6 billion in child support payments was collected and transferred.

Active paying parents without debt and with debt under a payment arrangement

The department focuses on reducing child support debt through its compliance and enforcement programs. Table 42 below shows the percentage of active paying parents who do not have a child support debt as a proportion of all active paying parents. The table also shows the percentage of active paying parents with a child support debt and a payment arrangement in place, as a proportion of all active paying parents with a child support 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 parents whose cases have ended but who still owe child support.

Table 42: Active paying parents without debt and with debt under a payment arrangement




Active paying parents without debt




Active paying parents with a child support debt which is under a payment arrangement




Change of assessment and objections

A parent can apply to have their child support assessment reviewed where certain special circumstances have not been taken into account and they significantly affect either parent’s capacity to provide financial support for the child or maintain themselves or a dependant. Special circumstances applications must be based on one or more of ten reasons, which cover:

  • high costs of spending time with or communicating with a child
  • high costs of a child’s special needs
  • high costs of education expected by the parents
  • high child care costs
  • income, property or financial resources of either a parent or a child
  • costs of supporting another person or child.

In 2017–18 the department received 18,077 change of assessment in special circumstances applications. Of these applications, 49.65% resulted in a change to the rate of child support so that it better reflected the special circumstances of parents and their children, and 66.79% of applications were about a parent’s income, property, financial resources or earning capacity.

Child Support System Redesign Project

The Child Support Systems Redesign Project delivered a new child support staff user interface in June 2017. This has been an important first step in modernising the systems that the department uses to deliver Child Support services.

In October 2017 the department commenced a staged release of new online services. The new online services make it easier for customers to find information, update details and let the department know when their circumstances change.

These steps form part of the department’s focus on transforming services to customers and modernising the systems used by staff to deliver child support services.

Page last updated: 1 July 2019

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