the csa can let you know the options available and tell you about the objections process and your rights
what is the objection?
An objection is a request to the CSA to review the determination formally. You may wish to object if you believe the CSA has:
- used incorrect information
- not considered all the relevant facts
- overlooked relevant details (or new information has become available) or
- not applied the appropriate law or policy correctly.
You can object to most CSA decisions. For example:
- to the percentage of care provided by each parent
- to credit or not credit a non–agency payment (payments other than to the CSA)
- to accept or not accept an estimate of income
- to a Change of Assessment decision
- to accept or not accept an application for collection, including any arrears component.
For a full list of CSA decisions to which you can object, visit our website Child Support
(search for ‘objections’), or call the CSA on 131 272
Decisions to which you cannot object
There are a number of CSA decisions that you cannot object to. The main ones are:
- parentage—a dispute about parentage can only be resolved in a court
- most collection processes, e.g. interception of tax refunds, garnisheeing, or the payment arrangement amount
- Departure Prohibition Order (DPO)—there are no CSA objection rights or SSAT review rights on these decisions.
If you disagree with the CSA’s decision to issue a DPO, you may apply to the CSA to have the DPO revoked or varied. In some cases, you may be able to apply to the AAT if you disagree with a CSA decision about:
- revoking or varying a DPO
- granting (or refusing to grant) a Departure Authorisation Certificate
- the amount of security specified by the CSA to allow you to depart Australia, or the date you are to return to Australia.
To object to a CSA decision (other than a care percentage decision), send a letter or email explaining why you object and asking the CSA for a review. To object to a care decision, see. “
How to object to care percentage decisions” below.
Your objection should include the following information:
- the date of the letter advising you of the CSA decision, and the date you received the letter
- the decision to which you are objecting and detailed reasons why you think the CSA’s decision is incorrect
Documents or evidence to support your objection (if available). The CSA can advise you on these.
To email your objection, go to the CSA website, select ‘Contact’ then Enquire online and complete the online form, including your case number and daytime telephone number. The Customer Service Officer will contact you to discuss your objection within 28 days. You can also post your objection to the CSA at GPO Box 9815, in your capital city.
The CSA is required by law to pass all information relevant to the objection to the other parent. This means your objection letter; email and evidence relevant to your objection will be sent to the other parent. The CSA will not pass on your postal address, email address or phone number
How to object to care percentage decisions made by the CSA or the Family Assistance Office (FAO)
The CSA and FAO now use the same rules to work out the percentage of care you provide. This means that one care decision will be used for both child support and family assistance.
If the CSA made the original care percentage decision and you disagree with it, you can lodge your objection over the telephone or in writing.
When calling the CSA, please have the letter containing the decision you are objecting to as you will need to provide:
- the date of the letter advising you of the CSA decision, and the date you received the letter
- details of the decision you are objecting to and the reasons why you think it is incorrect
- Documents or evidence to support your objection (if available). A CSA Customer Service Officer can advise you on this.
If the FAO made the original care percentage decision and you disagree with it, please call the FAO on 136 150*as they will have all the background information used to make the original decision. If you are not a FAO customer, you can contact the CSA in the first instance.
For CSA decisions (excluding care percentage decisions), you have 28 days to object from the date the letter advising you of the decision was delivered to your address. If you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, you have 90 days to object. Objections received outside these timeframes cannot be considered. If you want to object after this period, you must also make a request for an extension of time in writing, or by calling the CSA on 131 272*. Remember to explain why you were unable to object within the timeframe and provide supporting documentation if appropriate.
If the CSA refuses your request for an extension of time to object, you can apply to the SSAT for a review of the extension of time decision.
If you are objecting to a care percentage decision, you can lodge your objection at any time. However, if you do not lodge your objection within 28 days (or within 90 days if you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction) the CSA will only be able to give effect to any changes from the date you lodged your objection. If there are special circumstances that prevented you from lodging your objection within the timeframes and you would like the decision to take effect from an earlier date, you must contact the CSA as soon as possible.
An Objections Officer will handle your objection by:
- reviewing the information used by the officer who made the original decision
- discussing your objection with you by phone
- contacting the other parent to advise them of the objection and their rights
- checking for any new and relevant information
- resolving any misunderstandings and correct any mistakes that were made
- make ing a decision about your objection to the original decision
- informing you and the other parent of the result and explaining the reasons for the decision.
While your objection is being considered, the original decision will still apply. You can contact the Objections Officer handling your objection for updates or information about the process.
During the objection process, relevant information provided to the CSA by a customer must be exchanged with the other party, by providing them with a copy of the information or discussing it with them over the phone.
This ensures a fair and reasonable decision-making process and gives anyone who may be affected by the information an opportunity to respond before it is used by the CSA.
If you have any questions about open exchange of information, please contact the CSA.
The other parent’s response
The CSA will contact the other parent to discuss the objection and may send them a copy of your objection letter and any additional evidence relevant to the decision. If you lodged an objection to a care percentage decision over the phone, the CSA will contact the other parent who has 28 days to respond (90 days if they live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction) and provide their own documents and evidence. If they do not respond within these timeframes, their response may not be considered. If the parent responding to the objection provides their information and documents to the CSA, copies of these documents may be provided to you.
If it is relevant to the decision, an Objections Officer will discuss the response and evidence with you.
The CSA will make a decision about your objection within 60 days. If one parent resides overseas, the CSA has up to 120 days. In most cases, an Objections Officer will attempt to call both parents and advise them of the proposed objection decision.
Once the decision is made, you will be advised in writing whether the objection is allowed, partly allowed or disallowed. If necessary the CSA will amend your child support records and/or assessment and confirm this in writing.
You may be able to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) for a review.
Seeking further review of a CSA or FAO decision
Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT)
The SSAT is an independent tribunal that can review most objection decisions. Because the SSAT is an independent body, the CSA or FAO can only be involved in the SSAT process by providing documents relevant to the objection decision being reviewed, or attending hearings. The CSA or FAO cannot help you prepare your SSAT appeal.
The SSAT can affirm, vary or set the CSA or FAO decision aside and substitute a new decision, or send the matter back for reconsideration in accordance with any directions or recommendations they provide.
The SSAT can only review a CSA Objection or FAO review decision.
The other parent will be notified of the review.
There is no fee to apply to the SSAT for a review.
You do not need a lawyer to appeal to the SSAT. However, you can choose to have a lawyer represent you.
If you or the other parent appeals to the SSAT, the CSA or FAO is required to provide all information that is relevant to the decision to the SSAT for review. The CSA and FAO may also be required to provide this information to both parents. This can include information you provided to either agency before an objection or a review was lodged.
Decisions that the SSAT cannot review
The SSAT cannot review an objection decision about a Change of Assessment where the CSA has decided that the issues raised in the application are too complex and should be referred to the courts. In these cases, parents must apply to the court to change the assessment.
The SSAT cannot review CSA decisions made before 1 January 2007. These decisions can be reviewed subject to an application to the courts.
You can contact the SSAT on 1800 011 140 or visit www.ssat.gov.au, print out an appeal form from the SSAT website and send it to the SSAT at GPO Box 9943, in your capital city. You can also complete the form at your local CSA or Centrelink office.
If you are located overseas and wish to appeal to the SSAT for a review of an objection decision, you should contact the SSAT, preferably by email. The SSAT will discuss arrangements for the hearing with you.
During the discussion, you will be asked how you would like to provide evidence (by writing, by phone, by video conference, or through a representative). The SSAT can then determine whether your preference is appropriate.
Please note that under legislation the final determination on these matters is made by the SSAT. It is important to make early contact with the SSAT.
Before applying to the SSAT, one parent must have already objected to a CSA decision (CSA or FAO if related to a care percentage decision) and received a decision on that objection.
Unless you are applying for review of a care percentage decision, you must apply to the SSAT for a review within 28 days of receiving the CSA’s objection decision. If you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, you have 90 days to apply.
If you do not apply within the timeframe, you may write to the SSAT requesting an extension of time. You cannot apply for this extension over the phone. If the SSAT refuses to grant an extension of time, you may lodge an appeal with the AAT to review the decision not to grant extra time.
If you are seeking review of a care percentage decision, you can apply to the SSAT at any time. If you do not apply within 28 days (or 90 days if you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction), the SSAT decision will only affect your child support assessment from the date you applied. If you are appealing a CSA care percentage decision and the SSAT is satisfied that there were special circumstances preventing you from applying within 28 days. They may decide that the decision should take effect from an earlier date. If you are appealing a FAO care percentage decision, the CSA will make a decision about when to apply any changes to your child support assessment.
If you do not agree with the SSAT decision, you can only appeal to a court on a question of law (how the law or legal principle was applied to the facts of the case or whether the process was legally correct). You cannot apply to the court if you simply disagree with the decision. You may wish to seek further legal advice if you are considering appealing an SSAT decision.
If you remain dissatisfied with an SSAT decision in relation to the percentage of care for a child or a refusal to grant an extension of time to lodge an objection. You may apply to the AAT for a review of the decision.
If you are not satisfied with the service the CSA has provided, you can make a complaint. Your experience can help improve our service.
Asking us to review the child support decision that you think is wrong—i.e. objecting—is different from making a complaint about the service you have received.
If you would like to make a complaint you should follow these steps:
- Step One: Phone the CSA on 131 272* to speak to a Customer Service Officer. They will try to solve the problem or let you know if you can object to a CSA decision.
- Step Two: If you are still not satisfied, you may ask to speak to the Customer Service Officer’s Team Leader.
- Step Three: If you are still not satisfied, call the CSA’s Complaints Service on 132 919* and speak to the Complaints Resolution Officer.
If you have been unable to resolve a complaint with the CSA, you may wish to contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Commonwealth Ombudsman considers and investigate complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by an Australian Government department or agency.