Firstly I congratulate you on your site on providing Men to have their say on the appalling behaviour of Agencies. The honest story I am about to tell has all evidence to support my statements. I will fight until the day I day to have my husband's name cleared from a damning decision that the SSAT have made regarding his financial resources. I am a woman, but please don't hold that against me. I support all males in this discriminating Legislation that obviously has a separate Legislation that is written for men.
This is a child support matter that his ex applied for under so called Reason 8. Still until this day there has been no evidence from any of the Departments to support their reasoning to increase his income. He was self-employed however now due to a considerable amount of life threatening and health issues after a heart valve replacement he is no longer able to work.
FIRST CASE OFFICER AT THE CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY
- Two days before the initial interview we received a whole heap of documents from the CSA. Could not believe it. It was documentation that his ex had supplied to support her lies and statements. It included my husband’s General Ledgers from his business, and his Business Bank Statements that had been recently downloaded from the internet. We attempted to make the information complete and explain however the Case Officer refused any comments or further documentation.
The Case Officer used a ¼ of a General Ledger – the best quarter to support her decision
My husband was forced to pay the mortgage on the Former Matrimonial home as the ex stopped paying. He had to take out a huge overdraft to make these obligations, use my funds as well as rent the property out to assist.
When the former wife made her application to the CSA she stated that it was my husband’s choice to pay the mortgage in full and that she contributed to half. LIES LIES LIES. She also accused him of not providing her with half of the rent that we were trying to keep up the mortgage payments that were required.
Because he was paying the mortgage, the case officer based his income on expenditure. Guess what, when the decision was reached, the ex stopped paying the mortgage.
Some time through the course of all the mess that we were going through we found out the Case Officer had been provided with a ¼ General Ledger which demonstrated a Loss – this information had been withheld at the interview and stuffed in the file. The case officer had also been provided with the exes bank ledger demonstrating clearly the minimal contribution towards the mortgage that she had only recently made. I wonder why this information was withheld. Probably because it demonstrated the truth.
Of course, my husband objected to the decision. They had increased his income by double.
SECOND CASE OFFICER AT THE CSA
He provided substantial business figures for year. He explained peaks and troughs. Responded to all the accusations that he had not had a previous chance to respond to.
The Case Officer did not take anything into consideration. She made the decision based on him not supplying his Bank Statements and once again based his income on expenditure. He was never directed to provide this information. We had given up.
– Extension of time. We applied for an extension of time based on new financial figures and felt that information had been withheld from our little investigation. It was Disallowed. From what I am aware of, it wasn’t a Tribunal member that made the decision, it was a Staff member. Why do I say that?
They wrote "that we will contact you for the hearing" not even providing us with an opportunity to attend in person.
The person that made the decision is on of the main staff members within the Department.
My husband Became aware of Heart problems shortly after this decision. We pleaded that we didn’t want to have to go the AAT for another hearing and to please re-consider. They informed us to send through another letter. We did.
Denied within five minutes.
- We applied for a review of extension of time
In this time an apology letter came from CSA as information had been withheld from the original Case Officer. It was the General ledger of a loss prior to the ¼ the ex had provided and the Bank Ledger of her minimal mortgage contribution.
We thought the right thing to do was to withdraw the application from the AAT on the basis that the Child Support Agency were going to make a fresh decision. Yeah right!!
THIRD CASE OFFICER AT THE CSA
It Wasn’t a fresh decision. Looked back at all the information referring to first Case Officers decision because he had been meeting the mortgage obligations.
As I had been assisting him, the CSA said because I Didn’t provide them with evidence of my contributions to assist financially that she wasn’t going to take this into consideration. I was never asked for documentation to prove that I had paid his credit cards off or that I had assisted him financially.
She only referred to the financial figures and documentation to support her statements eg Total sales in a ¼ BAS never taking into consideration the expenses. The Profit & Loss info clearly showed he was not making any money. She wanted bank statements. These were provided for a period of time. We provided these unwillingly however to provide evidence it seemed that this was the only option. Her response to this information was that there was nothing in the bank statements that she could make comment on. Yes that is right. She refused to look at the evidence as it would have demonstrated that he was not making money.
She continued to refer that the credit facilities were a financial resource to my husband and that are not available to the ordinary wage earner. What a waste of time. So off to the SSAT we go.
SSAT – Final Tribunal Hearing
The final decision by the SSAT still has no record of how they met their determinations. The evidence that they apparantly had to support the decision was destroyed. I wonder why.
We were required to Provide all documents from the Directions including 18 months of Bank Statements, BAS, Profit & Loss. The SSAT Misused all the Bank Statement information.When we requested the Calculations of his Financial Matter we were told they were not able to be provided because they were covered under the secrecy provisions. What A Lie?? They destroyed them!! It took several months after an application to the AAT to be told this.
Immediately when my husband received the decision, we knew that they had mis-used his financial information, accused him of not providing his all of his bank statements even though it was confirmed by us that they had been received, criticised him for deleting his personal descriptions of transactions still enabling them to have the ability to calculate total deposits & withdrawls, used incomplete information that had been printed from the internet in which they accused him of having 12 bank accounts, not the 8 that he actually had, (When they used his Bank information they did not refer to as "ANZ Credit Card" etc, they used the last four digits of everything they could possibly find
which if you may be unaware of but when it is printed off for security reasons is different to the actual account number) added in transfers from one account to the other as income which resulted in calculating monies twice. The only knowledge of how they made their determinations and when we became aware of this was when the final decision had been made. At no time did they ask my husband about any of the information or their so-called discoveries. They accused him of being guilty and never was never provided with the ability to prove his innocence.
I argued with the SSAT and the only option that we were given was to take it to Court. So we did.
THey also left my personal account details on a Bank Statement that I requested that once it was verified honest evidence that it be deleted so that it did not go to the other party. Refused to take into account that I had lent monies to support his expenses both orally and in the financial documentation, stating that "They would not take it into consideration because I did not provide a loan agreement. " We were never requested this. They used the Property Loss on the FMH that my Husband was paying to reduce the ex’s income. This resulted in a Contrary decision that reduced her income which caused my husband an arrears. Did not provide my husband with an opportunity to comment on contrary decision. Added back in only half of the ex’s salary sacrifice
Even when the matter went to the FMC, the response was, in simple terms, "they could have written the calculation on an envelope" in other words, "who cares". The most frustrating thing is the Federal Magistrate dismissed the case. Because the SSAT refused to provide us with a Folio of documents for the Federal Magistrates Court Hearing, I had to photocopy every piece of evidence that had already been supplied to the SSAT and Child Support Agency. The FM refused to take into consideration any of the Affidavits and Annexures that I tirelessly put together. The FM had all the evidence sitting in the SSAT Folio, how was I expected to refer to this in Court if I didn't have a copy.
We have complained to all agencies including the OAIC, Commonwealth Ombudsman, and every avenue to have this matter dealt with. Not one Department will allow for the damning decision of the SSAT to be corrected. As far as I am concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that the Decision was affected by fraud. The decision was rediculously worded and even a simple business person I am did not have any difficulty working out that they exaggerated their deposits almost $100000 more than actual deposits. Don't worry about looking for the SSAT decision on the Austlii website, it hasn't been published. I wonder why??? If they did they know that they would have a major Court Case on their hands. Still, we are not happy that this document is in the Government records and want it corrected!! I have no hesitation in standing in a Court once again and proving my husbands innocence. Unfortunately though, the expense is out of the question.
You may think I am exaggerating, well, for two years we have been battling this, and each agency just makes up the Legislation as they go along. Each agency has done nothing but mis-use information to help come to their determinations. I am not making this up, I have all the evidence to provide so support these statements as well.
CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY - 2 days after the SSAT decision was received
Two days after we had received the SSAT decision we received another application from the CSA from the EX. We were fuming. Their reasons “The grounds were that there were no grounds to refuse the application”
There was no supporting documentation, no payslip nothing.
Frustrated. Complained and went to interview. At interview once again information packed away in the folder, the ex’s payslip. What a surprise. Another apology letter that they were forced to write.
We refused to have another case officer. Ended up with a win. Finally. He had even backdated up to the date that the SSAT had made their decision up to.