Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Work and Pensions Committee visit to Australia—13-17 September 2004



Meeting with Michael Raper, immediate past President and Peter Davidson, Senior Policy Adviser of Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)

  ACOSS is an umbrella organization covering the "third sector," including community and voluntary services, the welfare sector and other service providers. They aim to reduce poverty and inequality by developing and promoting responsible public policy; they support the role of non-governmental organisations; and contribute to national policy making. ACOSS works across a range of issues including training and employment, social security, health and housing. In addition, to their staff of policy officers and the executive board, there are three honorary advisers appointed who suggest policies and advocate them in the media. ACOSS has now developed a high profile and works with all sides of the political spectrum, giving a voice to the issues facing disadvantaged people. No similar organisation exists in the UK.

  ACOSS focuses on the economics and tax side in additional to "traditional" social security. A significant consideration is that, because social security is tax-based and is 45% of government outlays ($55 billion in total), social security is frequently "raided" when politicians require additional funds for something else.

  Social security and tax credit payments have become more generous, targetted and efficient. Payments for children include the child endowment which is an anti child poverty strategy initiative (although there is no national strategy on child poverty). A family payment for single earner families with children gives women (including lone parents) the choice of staying at home.

  Child support is an important income strand. The main problematic areas are as follows. If the non-resident parent (NRP) does not make payments or allows arrears to build, this causes debt problems for the parent with care (PWC) since, if the arrears are then paid, they are paid in one lump sum which often takes the PWC over the annual income limits for tax credit purposes.

  An additional problem is shared care arrangements as both parents are able to claim tax credits for the period for which they are caring for their child. Those with less than 30% can waive their right to their portion of the tax credits. Reducing child support payments based on shared care arrangements can have poverty implications for PWCs. An additional issue is that the expense of raising a child across two households is greater and the government does not recognise this.

  Take-up of tax credits is not a big problem as they are paid fortnightly, although overpayment is widespread. Of the 1.8 million people receiving Family Tax Benefit, 660,000 have an overpayment at the end of the year and repayment is difficult to arrange. A $600 lump sum payment at the end of the year has been introduced to address this issue. In addition, the Government has indicated that, where claimants notify Centrelink of changes in circumstances, changes to payment will not be applied retrospectively.

  Where a PWC is on benefit, application to the CSA is compulsory. 52% of CSA cases are now private collect. The IT system does work well and there are few data protection issues with the CSA system. There is political pressure on child support to reduce the burden of payment for NRPs. MPs say that this is the most common complaint from constituents. ACOSS strongly defends the CSA against any reductions in the child support calculations. When the CSA was first introduced there was a massive increase in child support compliance as the previous court system was so ineffective. Enforcement through the tax system does improve compliance. Where NRPs are self-employed there is the problem in Australia, as in the UK, that accountants are used to obscure actual income for child support calculation purposes. The Australian system differs from the UK in that it uses the net income calculation for child support, rather than gross income.

  A minority of NRPs are very organised and vocal which tends to distort the view of child support in the media. ACOSS also claim that the biggest backbench committee on child support is largely constituted of similar NRPs.

Meeting with Michael Bittman, Senior Research Fellow of Social Policy Research Centre and other senior staff at the University of NSW

  There had been no cost-benefit analysis into the success of the Child Support scheme. There was a strong lobby from Non-Resident Parents (NRPs) on the amounts payable. Although some data was collected (eg Household Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA)) UK data collection was seen as superior. A small project in 1997 had examined modest but adequate and low-cost incomes but non-random selection made the research questionable.

  CSA simulation modelling had concluded that CSA had reduced child poverty by 1% but child poverty had increased since 2000 because incomes at lower levels were static. There was a correlation between young mothers and socio-economic disadvantage, and there was a trend toward fewer teenage mothers. Centrelink data shows that mothers change status and there were issues around re-partnering and policy questions on transitional payments.

  Centrelink were currently researching the annual reconciliation of income and the link with Income support for low-income families which caused problems which arose when they changed status. Complexity was a problem but the tax system was quite efficient, with a six week delay in changes to payment.

  The situation of lone parents who re-partner needed to be examined. Housing costs were central and crucial. Child poverty levels varied because of the varying effect of social policies. There should be linked assistance for informal childcare. Trials were increasing participation by lone parents, but there was a need to understand changing social mores. More parental leave was proposed, mostly unpaid.

Meeting with Professor Patrick Parkinson, Chairman of the Family Law Council and Professor Faculty of Law of Sydney University

  Prof Parkinson is the chairman of the recently announced Ministerial Taskforce on child support. The taskforce was created following a recommendation in the report from the House of Representatives Committee on Family and Community Affairs Inquiry into child support following parental separation. The taskforce will provide advice on the Committee's recommendations, evaluate existing child support formula percentages, examine the exempt and disregarded income levels and will make proposals for change. The taskforce will report back to Government in March 2005. It is the first review of the child support system since 1988.

  The House of Representatives Committee faced enormous pressure from NRPs on contact issues. Research suggests that 36% of separated fathers are not seeing their children at all and 75% of these are deeply dissatisfied with the situation. Of the 64% of fathers who are seeing their children, just over half have them to stay overnight. 25% of adolescent children have never stayed overnight with their father. Contact is linked with poverty among NRPs who do not have the money or the space at home to allow their children overnight stays. In addition, the geographical distance between fathers and children can limit contact. Research suggests that contact between fathers and children increases the likelihood of maintenance being paid. In spite of these issues, the Committee recommended against shared care being the norm for parents upon separation as they regarded the main problem as the process of agreeing contact within the courts.

  A key part of reforms recommended following the House of Representatives Committee report was Family Relationship Centres (FRC). The taskforce is now considering how these may contribute to the understanding of and compliance with the CSA. The aim is for FRCs to be the first port of call for those separating or divorcing, rather than lawyers. FRCs will provide a wide range of services including mediation and advice upon child support, divorce, finance and so on. The plan is also to provide pre-marriage/cohabitation advice. It is hoped that 65 FRCs will open across the country as well as a national freephone number to ensure that FRCs are highly accessible to the general public. The success of FRCs would be measured by a reduction in the use of courts at relationship breakdown. For example, fewer divorces filed in court; more amicable relations between separating couples; a reduction in the number of contact orders; more parents with a "parenting plan"; and an increase in the number of fathers seeing their children.

  Ninety per cent of all separated families are on the CSA's books. Of the current CSA cases around half are CSA collect and half are private collect. The Agency actively promotes private arrangements rather than the Agency collection service. Private collect cases tend to be higher income couples. Around 70% of new clients opt for private collect. If parents are on benefit, the NRP can still pay privately, providing that payments are made to the PWC. The PWC can opt for private collect—the reasons why PWCs opt for private collect are not known. Reported Agency compliance rates are very high (around 88%), although this does not include private collect cases, where it is assumed compliance of 100%. Anecdotal evidence suggests that compliance on private collect cases is not as good as the Agency suggests.

  Forty per cent of all NRPs are paying the minimum payment of $5 per week. There is no provision in the CSA formula for step-children. If the NRP is non-compliant, employer withholding can be implemented quickly and no court order is needed. A change of assessment can be requested at any time if NRP income changes.

  One of the key issues that the taskforce will examine is the basic philosophy of the CSA and what they are trying to achieve. For example, should children be entitled to the same standard of life as before parental separation?

Meeting with Andrew Clarke, Regional Manager and other members of Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS)

  The service was an agency of the Department of Family and Community Services and had been established under the Disability Services Act 1986 in order to provide support for people on Income support to assist them to find work. There was a large potential for savings in costs by successful rehabilitation. There were 166 regional Boards and 1,700 employees, of which 1,000 were health professionals. The typical wait for an appointment was four to six weeks in Sydney and a typical programme lasted nine months from referral to completion. Rehabilitation was voluntary and success was measured by employment outcomes of sustainable jobs after three months. The cost was $3,072 per programme. The service was providing 370 programmes in Sydney this year—aiming for 160 clients in sustained job placements.


Meeting with Elizabeth Wing, Manager—Enquiries and Conciliation at the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board

  The Board had been established in 1977, was independent, but funded by the State. There was no link with Centrelink. Religious discrimination was not dealt with separately but was included within the Race category. Private clubs were not included because of religious sensitivities. 60% of cases resulted in conciliation. Tribunals made administrative decisions and do not award costs. Disability discrimination legislation would be in place by about 2014. Age discrimination would also be covered in the future.

Meeting with Sue Price from Men's Rights Agency

  The Men's Rights Agency (MRA) claims that 6.1% of the CSA client bases dies earlier than the general population. This may be due to stress-related illnesses or suicide. The UK CSA is easier on the wallet than the Australian system, plus Australians are taxed at a higher rate. The MRA argue that the average Australian wage is around $39,000 per annum which would result in child support payments of $7,000. They do not agree with the principle that children should be entitled to have the same standard of life post-parental separation. They do not oppose the principle of child support but they do propose that child support should be based upon the costs of raising a child rather than upon the NRPs income. The MRA also assert that high taxes combined with high child support payments results in fathers giving up work and non-compliance of child support. They also claim that the CSA is the most hated government Agency in Australia.

  The MRA report that the CSA has a problem of accountability. The CSA are very poor at answering the customer phonelines and that there are problems with the IT. Australian politicians claim that 30% of their constituency business is child support related. The MRA claim that CSA staff are paid performance bonuses on the amount of child support collected.[101] The CSA used to be part of the Australian Tax Office and the MRA claim that this led to data protection issues as data was illegally shared between government Agencies.

  The MRA argue that both parents are important in a child's life and that fathers are frequently refused contact with their children. The court process is designed to resolve contact issues before they reach the courts. 5% of contact cases are dealt with in the courts. A three tier structure was introduced for breach of contact orders: parenting classes; fines; and jail. The jailing of fathers for non-payment of child support is no longer done. Mothers can be jailed for denying contact, although the courts rarely enforce this.

  The MRA claim that the official working papers agreeing the child support formulas have been "lost". Irwin Garfinkle, from Wisconsin USA, designed the Australian system. He based it upon the Wisconsin system which was designed for those earning less than $20,000 per annum, whereas in Australia the system goes much higher up the income scale. The MRA allege that 2% of the child support formula is meant to be for the mother, although the CSA will not admit this.

  Parents opt for private collect as they do not want the Agency to interfere with their arrangement. The MRA believe that contact is important in terms of securing compliance with child support and that they need to be linked together. It is important that compliance is achieved voluntarily.

Lunch and round table discussion with Dr Paul Henman in the Speaker's Dining Room at Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney and at Sydney Airport

  Dr Henman has conducted research into the costs of contact between NRPs and children and to what extent the CSA formula meets the costs of children. This has been published in the UK's Journal of Social Policy. Using budget standards methodology to estimate the costs for NRPs exercising regular contact with their children, Dr Henman found that the costs for contact for 20% of the year are 40% of the costs of the child if it was in an intact family. The research suggests that there may be problems with the assumption that the costs of contact are a time-based pro-rata proportion of the costs of raising children full-time.

  The recent House of Representatives inquiry (from which the child support taskforce emerged) did look at the costs of children, but did not take into account the government's contribution in the form of benefits and tax credits. Family benefits start to taper off at an income level of $30,000, in spite of the fact that the average income in Australia is $39,000.

  Dr Henman's research also indicates that the pre-separation living standards of all family members cannot be maintained after separation without either an increase in the government assistance or an increase in the parents' earnings. Consequently, if child support policy attempts to maintain the pre-separation living standards of children then there is a danger that the level of child support liability may be at the expense of the ability to afford contact or of compliance with child support liabilities.


Meeting at the Child Support Agency with Ms Catherine Argall, General Manager and Mr Trevor Sutton, Assistant General Manager, Business Strategy Branch, and senior officials

Service Delivery Model—Voluntary Compliance

  The 1.3 million parents who use the CSA are 95% of the eligible separated population. The $2.2 billion in child support payments is a combination of the private and Agency collect cases.

  The 100% pass through is an important feature of the Australian CSA. Every dollar paid is transferred to the payee and the claw back is limited to payments above $3,000. Parents register by telephone as customers and details are then checked though the taxation system. Child support arrears can also be transferred through taxes.

  Child support assessments can be refreshed on request by either parent. When parents lodge their tax returns, the CSA is notified and the CSA reassesses the liability. The CSA formula can be changed to reflect "special circumstances." A full assessment of circumstances can be explored, for example if a NRP gives up paid work to study for an extensive period, this may be acceptable if this will increase their long-term earnings. Regarding self-employed NRPs, if they are thought to be minimising their income, "special circumstances" can be invoked by the PWC or, since 2000, the CSA can initiate a change of circumstances.

  All child support assessments are based upon net income. For example, an assessment of a self-employed NRP will not include legitimate business expenses. A PWC can apply for a change of assessment under one of 10 grounds and the NRP has a right to respond. A senior case officer will examine the case and will look into the NRPs tax records to assist with decision-making.

  All CSA staff are heavily trained as the Agency could not afford a high staff turnover. Attrition is around 10% per year and they do not want it to go above 15%. Staffing levels have remained stable in recent years and the caseload is increasing. Staff are selected for their "value alignment". The Agency has researched the personal characteristics of their best staff and now tests for similar characteristics when recruiting. The emotional resilience of staff plays a key role.

  The telephony system identifies new claim calls and will divert them appropriately. 90% of phone calls are answered within 30 seconds. Collection and enforcement runs across all staff streams and debt collection is the responsibility of all staff. The collection rate is 95% of all child support liabilities since 1988. The Intensive Debt Collection project targets those who can pay but won't pay. About 5% of NRPs are being traced to find out where they are living.

  With reference to the Client Service Delivery Model, maximising compliance is the goal and encouraging private collection is also important. 52% of CSA cases are now private collect and the potential population is 70% of all CSA cases. Private collect cases still use the CSA formulas, modifications etc, it is just the money that is transferred independently of the CSA. Payments are made monthly. Liabilities are generally higher for private collect cases, although benefit claimants can opt for private collect. In these cases, the information is transferred to Centrelink who then deduct benefits, as appropriate. Lone parent benefit is not affected by child support, only payments for children. Private collect tends to be chosen by customers because of existing amicable relations between parents. If payments are being made through the CSA, the Agency can initiate private collect if the parents agree.

  Only a minority of private collect cases have been shown to involve intimidation of the PWC. Staff work closely with customers in the first nine months of their claim to ensure arrangements are working. All staff are trained to recognise parents at risk who are then offered community support. If a PWC on benefit experiences a default in private collect maintenance payments, she notifies the CSA, Centrelink are then informed and benefits are adjusted accordingly. The CSA admit that they do experience problems in picking up on private collect cases where the first payment is defaulted upon.

  No administration fee is charged for private collect cases and they are much cheaper to manage than CSA collect cases—approximately one-fifth of the cost. The money that the CSA saves through private collect cases is then put into frontline services and case management. Case officers still manage private collect cases through the assessment procedure until regular payments are secured.

  On the improving rate of customer satisfaction, there is a high correlation between satisfaction, contact with children and the relationship between both parents.

Child Support Arrears

  Gross outstanding debt is currently $839 million, which represents 5% of child maintenance liabilities. Of this, $97 million involves cases where the NRP now lives overseas and this represents 20% of the non-compliant customers. It is hard to put a figure on the number of NRPs who leave the country to avoid paying child support.

  The Intensive Debt Collection (IDC) project was launched to tackle hard debt. The aim was to bring debt levels down to the July 2002 level. The scheme has now been extended. In the first year of IDC, collections were increased by $24.6 million. It is important to note that there was no double counting of maintenance collected. For example, if the NRP had paid 60% of their maintenance and the IDC project successfully collected the 40% outstanding, then only the 40% was counted in the total figure collected through IDC. Collections through IDC are more expensive—it costs $1 to collect $4.20, whereas it usually costs $1 to collect $8. The CSA recognise that collections through IDC will get progressively more difficult.

  IDC teams have been set up across the country with their own targets and outcomes which are reported on a weekly basis. It is not true that CSA staff are paid performance bonuses for collecting maintenance debt. The IDC method is for staff to telephone clients immediately they are allocated cases and not to research the cases first. This has made a significant difference in success levels. All letters that are sent out to NRPs are then followed up by telephone. The IDC ethos is now being embedded into the wider CSA.

  Once customers are targetted through IDC they tend not to fall back into debt. IDC also benefits relationship issues through improved compliance. All NRPs contacted through IDC are put in contact with money advice services. Lump sum payments of outstanding debt used to be avoided, although since they have now been found to be more successful at achieving compliance than employer withholding, lump sum payments are now frequently sought by staff. Employers are quite neutral over employer withholding and there have not been any complaints. All those paying child support receive a monthly statement of their liabilities.

  Penalties for late payment of child support are used strategically to promote compliance. The money goes to the exchequer rather than the children. A campaign is currently being run by the Agency to waive late payment penalties if NRPs agree a repayment plan for their arrears. This project has been successful and NRPs are initiating contact with the Agency after they have seen advertisements of the project.

  The CSA has powers to prevent non-compliant NRPs from leaving the country: the Departure Prohibition Order (DPO). This is carried out through the customs in Australia, rather than recalling NRPs passports. When a DPO is used, the CSA does not encourage media attention.

Round table meeting with Department of Family and Community Services officials:

        Mr Stephen Hunter, Deputy Secretary, FaCS

        Mr David Graham, General Manager, CRS Australia

        Mr David Kalish, Executive Director, Family Cluster

        Mr Roger Barson, Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability

        Mr Tony Carmichael, Assistant Secretary, Family Relationship Services and Child

      Support Policy Branch

        Ms Robyn Seth-Purdie, Family Relationship Services and Child Support Policy Branch

        Ms Helen Bondaruk, International Branch (Multicultural Policy)

  CSA was semi-autonomous but had a responsible Minister within the Department. There were international reciprocal arrangements which differ depending on the country. New Zealand and the UK are the most common countries involved. International cases cost about 30% more to manage than Australian cases.

  The taskforce established under the Chairmanship of Professor Parkinson had been the result of a Parliamentary Committee's recommendation following an inquiry lasting 6 months and receiving some 700 submissions. The Taskforce was composed of people with expertise and there was a reference group which included interest groups.

  It is uncommon for CSA cases to have shared care arrangements. Around 30,000 PWCs are actually grandparents. Child support and contact were dealt with as separate issues. 36% of fathers do not see their children but three-quarters want to. The solution was to encourage more contact.

  There had been initial problems with the IT systems. After 2½ years an independent assessment was undertaken and as a result the project was brought "in house". The boundaries of commercial confidentiality were set out in a document which was promised to be forwarded to the Committee. The link with Inland Revenue is crucial to the successful operation of the scheme.

  Rehabilitation was encouraged through Centrelink; Job Networks (for the private sector); disability employment assistance agencies and the CRS (for moderate/severe disability). CRS was not a medical organization, but aimed to help people into work by using case management. It was community based and funds were available. The average case lasted nine months. 37% of cases ended up in durable employment. For each Aus$1 invested there was a return of Aus$30.


Meeting with Professor Meredith

  The Australian system was based on a similar (failed) system in Wisconsin. Use of the law was a last resort, administrative action via the Tax Office was preferred. The scheme had been deficient in not focusing sufficiently on contact and enforcement of access. All payments had originally been via CSA but direct payment was now permissible. There had been a shift towards a focus on equity between parents rather than the needs of children. The use of net pay for calculations has a disincentive to the NRP. An exception had an effect on the 18% rate—using indirect costs favoured the number rather than the age of children. Gross earnings were preferable for calculations. There were more constraints on earnings for lone parent families. There should be more shared custody but the NRP should not be forced to provide more care than before separation. There should be more reconciliation and counselling.

Meeting with Dr Alison Moorhead and Mr Bruce Smyth and others at Australian Institute of Family Studies

  The AIFS has a long-standing interest in child support since AIFS were established in 1980. Since the CSA came into being, there had been significant social change and there is now a pressure to modernise the Agency. The main criticisms are that NRPs are paying too much and, from PWCs, that payments do not always occur.

  The original Australian child support scheme was intended to be universal and retrospective, although retrospectivity has not been maintained. It had been brought in in two stages: stage 1—for new cases (increased the number of orders and the level of the liability). There was great opposition to stage 2—the difficulty of picking up cases with existing maintenance arrangements was identified.

  The scheme was intended to be universal, ie, applied whether parents are on benefits or not. However many parents make private payments using the CSA private collect system (around 50% of CSA cases), although assessments are still made via the Agency. In addition, there was a gradual realisation that people could make own private agreements, providing that they were not claiming Family Tax Benefit. Only 5% of cases make their own private arrangements without using the Agency. Average private agreements are higher than CSA assessments. There is no sign that ability to make private agreements is producing bad results. Two lessons have been learnt: don't be too theoretical when reviewing child support policy. Retrospectivity is a nightmare and private agreements are a good thing. The areas that now need to be focused upon are enforcement and second families.

  As soon as collection of child support gets out of control, you lose it forever. The single most effective collection method is direct debit from wages and also through the tax system, but when child support debts are high, nothing much can be done, primarily because most NRPs are on low income. There is no permanent write off provision of debt—debts can get bigger and bigger ad infinitum. The CSA needs access to joint bank accounts. The cumulative debt (child support only—not penalties) was $500 million in 1997 and $758 million by 2002. Debt relates to 2.6% of payers.

  The CSA are increasing the number of fathers who have never had a relationship with their children. DNA testing to prove parental status is a growing area.

  The Australian income support system is not affected by maintenance payments. It was claimed that it is not worthwhile for the UK to persist with a system that takes benefit pound for pound for child support payments, and has no incentives to pay. The Australian system allows the first $30 of child support to be kept by the PWC before income support is reduced. The Australian system has a strong anti-poverty impetus compared with the UK CSA, which will only get minimal public support if it continues with returning the majority of child support payments to the government and not to the child. In Australia, about $2,000 of a typical child support payment to a PWC on income support is kept. This is a powerful incentive for PWCs to pursue child support and for NRPs to pay. However, not everyone agrees with the development in Australia whereby one person in poverty must pay to prevent poverty in another (ie, minimum payment from non-resident parents on benefits).

  An unintended effect of child support payments was pointed out. Where there is a redistribution of benefits and a reduction in the child support liability because of the level of care of children by the NRP, this can lead to a push for shared care for financial reasons and may not always be good for the children. Only 2% of CSA cases involve a shared care arrangement and there is a demand from NRPs for more contact time with their children. There is a need for more contact centres to facilitate this. The Taskforce will look into the issue of the costs of children and costs of contact. Early findings from a pilot scheme show that if you spend significant resources on mediation and parenting skills to resolve contact and child support disputes, issues can be resolved and maintenance paid.

  It was felt that the CSA needs to have much more concern regarding the welfare of children. In addition, the public face of the Agency is very important. Much work has already been done in terms of advertising the broader range of services offered.

  It was argued that the child support formula will not solve child poverty and this point is a driver behind the dissatisfaction with the child support system. Poverty needs to be addressed more broadly through other social and welfare systems. In addition, it was argued that it is probable that shared care arrangements will increase and these will increase the costs of raising children. Shifts such as this need to be anticipated and action taken.

  In Australia, the $5 minimum child support payment for low-income NRPs that exists wasn't originally planned for. The original idea was for it to fund a maintenance guarantee scheme, that is, money redistributed back to PWCs who do not receive maintenance. Yet the guaranteed maintenance scheme was not introduced. The $5 minimum payment is not a way to get NRPs into the system early; rather to educate them regarding child support responsibility; and to facilitate higher payments once the NRP earns more.

  Centrelink and CSA spent a lot of money on improving their IT systems. The CSA and Centrelink have a linked IT system and there is also a close relationship with the Australian Tax Office in terms of sharing of information.

  In summary:

    —  There is a big debate over whether the conversion of private debt to debt to the Treasury was a good thing.

    —  Enforcement of contact is a complex problem.

    —  You need to return to basic values and check that people think the child support assessments and the scheme are reasonable.

    —  Child support is not just about money but about perceptions of justice and values. It was recommended that the UK government think about what needs to be achieved before the CSA starts to be further reformed.



  The CSA staff are proud of the work that they do and the Melbourne CSA centre has just a 6% staff turnover rate—the lowest in the country. Staff are carefully recruited and have eight weeks of training. It is 12 months before they are regarded as fully functioning. That said, not everyone is comfortable saying that they work for the CSA in public. All staff deal directly with clients—even senior managers.

  Their office has 25,000 new cases per year. 94% of new cases are registered within 14 days—mainly over the telephone—this includes assessment. Eight years ago it took six months to register a case. Both parents are interviewed at the registration stage and NRPs are spoken to regarding compliance issues.

  Intensive case management means that all clients have direct contact with a named staff member. There is now a distinct focus on debt collection and collections per year now outnumber the child support assessments.

  Telephone calls from clients are quickly connected and there is no staff time limit for calls. Very little work is done in writing—most is telephone work. If a case is not resolved within 14 days, another member of staff takes it over to ensure compliance.

100   In this note the symbol $ refers to Australian dollars unless otherwise stated. Back

101   Note: this was later found to be untrue at the meeting with the CSA in Canberra. Back

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