Child support: "When we interview women, they cry and cry and cry"
Many women and children living in poverty are not receiving adequate child support. Experts question the political will to change it
Amanda and her seven-year-old daughter, Carly, live in a two-bedroom townhouse in Melbourne’s inner city. Because it’s part of the national rental affordability scheme, the rent is just $720 a fortnight. Even so, with her parenting payment only amounting to $776.10 a fortnight, the former company director often has to rely on food banks – especially when child support payments from her ex-partner, John, fall short.
Last year, John’s tax return reported his income to be dramatically lower than it had been previously. Now recorded as $52,500, his child support payments subsequently dropped to $329 a month from $745. The timing was devastating for Amanda, as it coincided with Carly beginning primary school and the recommendation that she be assessed for having special needs – a costly process.
Suspecting that John, who owns his own company, had minimised his income, Amanda put in a reassessment application to the Department of Human Services Child Support (DHSCS) – a risky scenario, given that she had previously taken an intervention order out on him for stalking. And then, things became truly Kafkaesque.