The last Coalition government, the Howard government, held a historic parliamentary inquiry into the child custody system that led to widespread changes including “shared parenting”.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has announced it has commenced a new inquiry into the Child Support Program, as requested by the Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews.
It has been charged with looking at under or over payments, and enforcement options for payments, flexibility for families, and providing the best options for children in conflict situations, how the program fits with mediation and Family Assistance frameworks, and links between the child support program and the Family Court.
The committee has created an anonymous, online questionnaire for individuals to complete, giving anyone with an experience of the Child Support Program the opportunity to make a personal contribution to the inquiry.
“The Child Support Program assists families at moments of great stress, and it is designed to focus on the needs and costs of children. The Committee wants to look at the way it operates to ensure that it works for all families, and to see if it is flexible and supportive enough to deal with the range of different family situations,” Chair George Christensen said in a statement.
“We want to hear from individuals about their experiences, and that is why we have created a comprehensive online questionnaire. I would encourage everyone who has a personal experience of the Child Support Program to go online and tell us their story. This kind of information will be crucial to our understanding of how the program operates in reality.”