Strengthening Australia’s child support scheme

The Albanese Labor Government is funding a new package of measures to strengthen the child support scheme and ensure it is working for all separated families.

Around 1.2 million parents have a child support arrangement in place for one million children. For many single parents, accurate and timely child support payments are critical for their family’s financial security.

Improvements to the child support system:

As part of the 2023-24 Budget, the Government has committed $5.1 million over five years from 2022-23 to implement key recommendations made by the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System to:

  • establish a Child Support Stakeholder Consultation Group to provide a strong voice to Government on issues impacting families
  • establish a Child Support Expert Panel, who will provide advice to Government, including on the costs of raising children in Australia to ensure child support payments provide children with an adequate level of financial support
  • review compliance in the child support scheme, with a focus on collection and enforcement
  • review the interaction between the child support scheme and Family Tax Benefit to ensure vulnerable single parent families are financially supported after separation
  • undertake an evaluation of separated families to understand what can be done to support parents with caring responsibilities where private collection arrangements have broken down

Minister Rishworth said the package builds on the Government’s legislation that came into effect on 1 July 2023, to improve the timely collection of child support owing to parents and help prevent future debt among low-income parents.

“Our legislation was the first step to make the system fairer. But we know there are more issues to solve, including non-compliance and the use of the system as a means of financial abuse and control,” Minister Rishworth said.

The Child Support Stakeholder Consultation Group will meet for the first time today, Friday 7 July 2023.

Members are key organisations and individuals with expertise in child support and the experiences of separated and separating families.

The group includes:

  • Single Mother Families Australia (formerly known as the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children)
  • Lone Fathers Association of Australia
  • Parents Beyond Breakup
  • National Children’s Commissioner
  • Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner
  • Australian Council of Social Service
  • Professor Kyllie Cripps, Monash University
  • Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
  • Economic Justice Australia
  • Relationships Australia
  • Family and Relationship Service Australia

Minister Rishworth said the new group will provide feedback to Government on policy and service delivery issues to improve the operation of the child support scheme.

“The Government has a responsibility to ensure the child support scheme promotes the best interests of children and is informed by lived experience,” Minister Rishworth said.

“This new forum provides an opportunity for family and community groups to collaborate with the Government to strengthen the scheme. Australians can be assured that the best interests of children will always be paramount in any changes we make to the child support scheme.”

More information about the child support scheme can be found on the Department of Social Services website.