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CSA Having Nothing But Contempt For The Payer
Posted 10 February, 2012, 07:12 PM
#45203
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Someone in another thread posted they thought (or at least implied it) CSA had nothing but contempt for payers.  The CSA staff I knew when I worked there didn't have that view - which actually surprised me a little.  I asked someone about it and they told me sometimes new staff had a view like that but after seeing what some payers go through ended up feeling sorry for them.

The real reason for the payer perceiving they have a hard time, and I hasten to add this is a personal view only, is the legal system in Australia gives a very high priority to a mothers right to her child.  Occasionally that will not occur, but usually it is the Payee that gets custody.  That being the case the Payer will end up not only paying for the the child but also compensation for the mother looking after the child.  The CSA simply enforces the legislation.

I know some Payers who say that relationship is over and they should be allowed to move on.  Trouble is if they do that then it gets charged to the Australian taxpayer.  If that happened I know what I would be doing - the first party that had a policy of making the Payer pay and reducing my tax would get my vote - and I suspect many others as well.

When you work at CSA you hear all sorts of ditties - some that paint the payer in a bad light - some the opposite.  The best one I heard is they couldn't get a company to auto withhold a Payers pay.  That went on for so long someone went out to investigate.  It turned out the person in charge of the pay area was the client and simply refused to auto-withhold it.  But to show there is no bias a beauty I heard about a Payee was when the Payer got genetic testing done and it was found he was not the father.  Now normally that means you don't have to pay and you may even get a refund.  But you know what - she went to court and got the Judge to rule since the Payer had for quite a while accepted he was the father he had to continue to pay.

Again I want to add this is my view only and the two tales above are from memory so could be faulty.

IMHO there is no bias either way in CSA but it would be interesting to hear what others think.
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Posted 10 February, 2012, 08:04 PM
#45205
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Payer got genetic testing done and it was found he was not the father.
he went to court and got the Judge to rule since the Payer had for quite a while accepted he was the father he had to continue to pay.

Thats typical of the CSA not to investigate further.

Oldboy I ask you this,

I for one and several others on the CS forums have been reconciled by the CSA.
Mine was done over 2 years ago and the CSA went back to the year 2000
I was made to pay $2k for a period that was 8 years old.
On the CSA web site it states that the CSA can not go back past 18 months for a reconciliation without a court order, but they went ahead and did it. There are several others that have had the same thing happen.

Is this normal practice for the CSA to pull the wool over the payers eyes and get away with blue murder and honest people like me get done over.
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Posted 10 February, 2012, 08:25 PM
#45208
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Percolo Alio

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Taylor said

On the CSA web site it states that the CSA can not go back past 18 months for a reconciliation without a court order, but they went ahead and did it. There are several others that have had the same thing happen.

The issue is that reconciliation is the process for handling income estimate discrepancies, whilst going back x years is classed as an amended assessment. The legislation imposes no limitation on how far back amendments can go and it may be that income estimates are then affected by amendments so they reconcile as part of the amendment.

Disclaimer - I apologise for any adverse reaction/feeling you may have if you are not of sound mind and therefore take this disclaimer and everything I post ridiculously out of context and see the hidden gender-biased messages that my lack of self-awareness allows me to actually be aware of and compose without actually even composing them.

Thanking Larissap for the inspiration behind this signature.

When asked about hand written notes on the document marked as Exhibit 3 the best that the Applicant maternal grandmother could say was :
 It looks like my handwriting!
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Posted 10 February, 2012, 08:30 PM
#45209
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taylor said

Payer got genetic testing done and it was found he was not the father.
he went to court and got the Judge to rule since the Payer had for quite a while accepted he was the father he had to continue to pay.

Thats typical of the CSA not to investigate further.

Oldboy I ask you this,

I for one and several others on the CS forums have been reconciled by the CSA.
Mine was done over 2 years ago and the CSA went back to the year 2000
I was made to pay $2k for a period that was 8 years old.
On the CSA web site it states that the CSA can not go back past 18 months for a reconciliation without a court order, but they went ahead and did it. There are several others that have had the same thing happen.

Is this normal practice for the CSA to pull the wool over the payers eyes and get away with blue murder and honest people like me get done over.

Of course its not normal practice for the CSA to ignore the law.  They have some lawyers there to ensure they do not do that - I worked with at least two.  If you are correct you have redress at the administrative appeals tribunal and of course you can lawyer up.  If you are in the right a lawyer may see dollar signs and may even take the case with a view to getting some kind of percentage.  Take my word for it - if you do that and win it will shake things up 100% for sure.  When I worked there I was involved in a staff dispute where it looked like they may have broken a staff agreement - it all worked out OK (as they usually do - and should) - but while it was going on it was generally accepted if it actually happened their would be a real shake up - senior officers simply can not get away with stuff like that even in the public service - if proven heads will roll.

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Posted 10 February, 2012, 08:45 PM
#45210
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Oldboy said

Of course its not normal practice for the CSA to ignore the law.  They have some lawyers there to ensure they do not do that - I worked with at least two.  If you are correct you have redress at the administrative appeals tribunal and of course you can lawyer up.

I don't believe that you take such a matter to  AAT, the legislation limits use of the AAT as follows:

The CSA Guide - Chapter 4.2: External review applications to the SSAT or AAT said

A parent can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of certain CSA decisions regarding Departure Prohibition Orders. See Chapter 5.2.11 for information on the review provisions.

The AAT can also review CSA decisions on FOI applications (see Chapter 6.6.2).

The AAT can also review SSAT decisions about care percentage decisions (see Chapter 2.2.1).

The AAT can also review SSAT decisions to refuse to grant an extension of time to apply for a review of a CSA decision (see Chapter 4.2.4).

I believe that this is also all that is said in the jurisdiction list available via the AAT website.

Disclaimer - I apologise for any adverse reaction/feeling you may have if you are not of sound mind and therefore take this disclaimer and everything I post ridiculously out of context and see the hidden gender-biased messages that my lack of self-awareness allows me to actually be aware of and compose without actually even composing them.

Thanking Larissap for the inspiration behind this signature.

When asked about hand written notes on the document marked as Exhibit 3 the best that the Applicant maternal grandmother could say was :
 It looks like my handwriting!
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Posted 10 February, 2012, 09:18 PM
#45213
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MikeT said

I don't believe that you take such a matter to  AAT, the legislation limits use of the AAT as follows:

I take your word for that.  But I do know you are correct about reassessments.  The CSA system has to handle them from the date the scheme started and as I said it is really hard - combine that with clients in multiple cases and its a nightmare.  No excuse for not getting it right of course but that does not change how hard it is.

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Posted 10 February, 2012, 10:07 PM
#45214
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Oldboy prior to 2007 the court was more accessible however now it is very hard to get to a court and then only on a point of law. The AAT can only handle care percentage issues and out of time appeals I think.

What about C$A's resistance to consider other methods of calculating care percentages other than using night counts? The law at the time gave them the ability to use other methods but they refused.

Also when looking at capacity to earn assessments the payee who might have less than 60% care is not considered.

Converting penalties into child support liabilities on the payers statements.

Performance based pay for greater collection.

Making decisions over the phone re objections for example and not backing it up with paperwork.

Making reassessments as per the word of the payee without consulting the payer.

Training staff to use the phone to extract information from the payer whilst they are on the go so they cannot think about the answers they are providing.

How many CDDA claims does C$A settle each year?

...and you say they are just following legislation?
Sure you didn't work in the mail room or clean the loos or something at C$A for 15 years?

With people like you working there I'm not surprised the C$A is the most hated Government agency in Australia.

I'm sure others will add to this - sic em guys!
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Posted 10 February, 2012, 11:09 PM
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Fairgo said

...and you say they are just following legislation?
Sure you didn't work in the mail room or clean the loos or something at C$A for 15 years?

With people like you working there I'm not surprised the C$A is the most hated Government agency in Australia.


Until you're prepared to leave your job and work for CSA and experience what they do in their roles, don't pass judgement on a person's ability to do their job. When I post on this site, I try not to have any preconceived ideas about other people and what kind of parents they are to their children. I think it is a common courtesy if you do the same.


Taylor said

 
Payer got genetic testing done and it was found he was not the father.
he went to court and got the Judge to rule since the Payer had for quite a while accepted he was the father he had to continue to pay.

Thats typical of the CSA not to investigate further.

If a court makes an order about parentage CSA has no grounds to appeal it as they are not a party to the proceedings. If the court has made a decision regarding parentage, CSA is bound to abide by the orders. If the father is not happy about having his s107 application dismissed he has recourse by lodging an appeal with a higher court.

I have seen several local courts make absolute balls ups on parentage orders (both s106 and s107) orders. I never thought they had jurisdiction to make child support related judgements, but there you go...
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Posted 10 February, 2012, 11:38 PM
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Burbs said

Until you're prepared to leave your job and work for CSA and experience what they do in their roles, don't pass judgement on a person's ability to do their job. When I post on this site, I try not to have any preconceived ideas about other people and what kind of parents they are to their children. I think it is a common courtesy if you do the same.

Burbs said

If a court makes an order about parentage CSA has no grounds to appeal it as they are not a party to the proceedings. If the court has made a decision regarding parentage, CSA is bound to abide by the orders. If the father is not happy about having his s107 application dismissed he has recourse by lodging an appeal with a higher court. I have seen several local courts make absolute balls ups on parentage orders (both s106 and s107) orders. I never thought they had jurisdiction to make child support related judgements, but there you go...

All very true.

When I worked there I was constantly amazed at how dedicated CSA staff were.  I was a union delegate (as well as working there) and one time when CSA was part of the ATO there was strike action for a better agency agreement.  I heard rumblings some members were really riled up so I called a meeting thinking they really wanted to strike.  But you know what it was - the opposite - they were really concerned about the impact on clients and did not want to strike - that's how dedicated they are.

The problems with CSA has nothing to do with the staff, management etc etc - its purely how difficult the whole thing is.

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Posted 11 February, 2012, 12:22 AM
#45233
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Sorry for the offence mate but I have reams of paper records from being a write only client that show otherwise.

They existed to screw the payer and that is what they did and continue to do. I bet you had to delete the word payee before you typed clients in your last message.

They act with court like powers without any regard for how their decisions will effect their so called cleints.

People committed suicide over their unfair COA decisions.

I have a dear friend who for the last ten years has been financially gutted by the C$A and has never recovered.

They clear payers banks accounts without warning.

They encourage payers to gift over payments when they should be collecting from the payee.

Ignoring ATO legislation in regards to what constitutes income to arrive at a higher liabiliy so the crying poor payee can get more funds whilst the payer is struglling to keep their business together.

I have a friend who works for C$A and he finds it hard to see my perspective but then he has never been a payer.

It sounds like the only way one could survive in C$A was to separate the payers issues from the payees and keep on thinking they were actually helping the kids. I say they created a fatherless generation whilst building a welfare state. Only a collection mentality would create such a coping strategy.

Don't bother leaving your job to go to work for C$A. Just go and work in a low socio public school and you will see what 20 years of C$A has created.
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Posted 11 February, 2012, 01:01 AM
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Fairgo said

Ignoring ATO legislation in regards to what constitutes income to arrive at a higher liabiliy so the crying poor payee can get more funds whilst the payer is struglling to keep their business together.

Have you consulted a lawyer about this?  CSA has lawyers (even some employed as front line staff) and they work hard to ensure what they do is legal.  Of course anyone can make an error but I would suggest mistakes like that are unlikely and to be sure you would need some legal advice.

Actually that reminds me of a rather amusing incident.  CSA had this scheme (they may still have) where you applied for a promotion and you got it if you could demonstrate you were up to that standard applied against certain criteria including knowledge of CSA legislation.  I was roped into accessing some of those and I remember one that had it nailed pat - they were really good.  But I couldn't find any mention of knowledge of CSA legislation except a minor mention by some referee they had just completed a law degree.  The others working with me on accessing the applications wanted to knock it back on that count but I thought I would ring up the referee.  It turned out not only were they a qualified lawyer but knew CSA legislation back to front.  I also found out there were a number of front line staff with law degrees.  They were at levels below me and, as far as I could see, could have got a good deal more money elsewhere but simply wanted to make a difference at CSA.  

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Posted 11 February, 2012, 01:49 AM
#45236
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Oldboy - just look up the Ladd case on here and all will be revealed. This is one of the biggest problems self employed payers are having with C$A.

Knowing the Legislation is important however did you ever have one of these undergraduate law degrees hotshots find differences between the legislation and the guide? This has been a problem.

Being so high up in the system would gve you a birds eye view of the issues. Did you ever feel that changes were needed as per the lot from the last Liberal government?

You being an ex union rep would know C$A's strategy in finding potential long tem employees. I read about it in one of their annual reports a few years ago. You would probably also know about staff turnover rates. Is that something you would care to share with us?

What did you think of the collection handbook advising employees to pump payers for info over the phone because they have less chance to think about what they are saying? Was this also legislated and therefore C$A employees were just following the law?

Last edit: 11 February, 2012, 02:11 AM by Fairgo
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Posted 11 February, 2012, 03:01 AM
#45240
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Fairgo said

Oldboy - just look up the Ladd case on here and all will be revealed. This is one of the biggest problems self employed payers are having with C$A.

I again think you should seek legal advice before jumping to conclusions about legal issues.

Fairgo said

Knowing the Legislation is important however did you ever have one of these undergraduate law degrees hotshots find differences between the legislation and the guide? This has been a problem.

I don't think its really appropriate to discuss specifics of issues like that.  Suffice to say sometimes its hard for the less experienced staff on the ground to sort out the difference between legislation, directives from the CSA executive, and local policy.  I can also say I know of no instance where CSA knowingly did anything illegal and the vetting by people with legal qualifications is substantial - both in policy making areas and on the ground.

Fairgo said

Being so high up in the system would gve you a birds eye view of the issues. Did you ever feel that changes were needed as per the lot from the last Liberal government?

I think I already indicated the change I would like to see - legislative simplification that takes into account the technical complexity of implementation.  As far as I can see neither of the major parties are advocating that - nor from some of the replies here does it seem it is an issue with much of a ground swell in CSA.

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Posted 11 February, 2012, 07:40 AM
#45248
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oldboy, I have had 10 years of experience with the CSA as a payer (now off their books) and I have little confidence in your assertions. The Agency in my experience, has little accountability, selective record-keeping, poor record security, practises illegal collection methods, frequently offers bluster and threat in response to complaints, has little commitment to transparency in decision-making or accountability and has a culture that encourages staff to act with little concern for the consequences of their actions.

I have dealt with only two staff in that time who I felt were at all principled in the dealings and who actually did what they agreed to do in meetings. I have had meetings that the CSA called cancelled because I followed my normal business practise and put a tape recorder on the table to allow me to review what was discussed later. I have been told by a State Manager that SCOs need keep no notes about their decision-making proces "because the decison will be made immediately". I have had the COO ignore a serious complaint about breaches of the Criminal Code by staff and only finally respond when threats of Court action were made some 6 months later. Even then, the first line of defence was to pretend that the original letter had been "lost". that didn't work because I hand-deliver everything and demand a receipted copy. They miraculously "found" the document when this was pointed out and a legal demand to know the idnetity of the person who was last to access the file was made.

I'm sure you're sincere in your views,but I respectfully suggest they bear a roseate tint that doesn't reflect the dirty, yellow glare that pervades the CSA.
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Posted 11 February, 2012, 11:04 AM
#45254
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Oldboy said

Have you consulted a lawyer about this?  CSA has lawyers (even some employed as front line staff) and they work hard to ensure what they do is legal.  Of course anyone can make an error but I would suggest mistakes like that are unlikely and to be sure you would need some legal advice.
One of the problems here is that CSA Officers are expressly exempt from Judicial Review when they produce decisions that are not supported by the legislation and therefore illegal.

ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS (JUDICIAL REVIEW) ACT 1977 said

SCHEDULE 1
Classes of decisions that are not decisions to which this Act applies
Section 3
(s) determinations made by the  Child Support  Registrar under Part 6A of the  Child Support  (Assessment) Act 1989 ;
  http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/adra1977396/sch1.html

I personally had an SCO decide to "arbitrarily" (sic) set a Child Support amount in a COA decision.
She went on to explain that the amount she arbitrarily decided upon was the amount that I would have to pay in rent if I did not own a house.

Far from being inexperienced in these matters, this person was a lawyer who had previously worked for a Community Legal Center and was the Co-Author of a document titled:
"The Commonwealth's 'Second Wave' Assault on Carer Parents and their Children"
The content of that document is about as biased as the title might suggest and the decision produced by this officer in my case was similarly biased.
A copy of that document is attached for perusal.

The decision made by the Objections Officer after my objection was more garbled cruft that used a completely different logic to pluck a fictitious Adjusted Income out of the air that produced an Assessment IDENTICAL to the "arbitrary" amount set by the SCO

This experience has left me with the opinion that these two officers are either Culpable or Incompetent - the fact that they both arrived at the same Assessment amount through totally different and fictitious methods would indicate the former rather than the latter.
Either way, they should not be holding positions with such power over people's lives.

The decisions published in various cases such as Ladd, Voss, et al, the content of various Commonwealth Ombudsman Reports and the anecdotal evidence posted on this and other forums would indicate that mine is not an isolated case and that there is in fact a systemic problem with the culture of collection and bullying within the CSA.
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Posted 11 February, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Craigo said

oldboy, I have had 10 years of experience with the CSA as a payer (now off their books) and I have little confidence in your assertions. The Agency in my experience, has little accountability, selective record-keeping, poor record security, practises illegal collection methods, frequently offers bluster and threat in response to complaints, has little commitment to transparency in decision-making or accountability and has a culture that encourages staff to act with little concern for the consequences of their actions.

seriously said

One of the problems here is that CSA Officers are expressly exempt from Judicial Review when they produce decisions that are not supported by the legislation and therefore illegal.

In the short time I have been posting here I have seen a number of accusations CSA staff are DELIBERATELY and with INTENT and MALICE breaking the law.  That is a very strong accusation - very strong.  The claim is they are not making a mistake - anyone can do that - I do it all the time - but do it with forethought.  In one case when the accusation was made about re-assessments, which CSA do all the time and often backdate it many years, someone who had more knowledge of the technical detail of that legislation than I do pointed out their error.  I have asked those making such accusations to consult a lawyer because I strongly suspect their understanding of the law is similar to the reassessment situation.  I personally will not give an opinion on legal matters - really that is the job of a lawyer.

It is true that decisions by CSA officers are not subject to judicial review but thay are subject to internal disciplinary action especially if it can be shown it was deliberate and with preconceived malice.  Although it does not happen often I have seen people dismissed from the public service for things of less importance.  If you get a legal opinion they are breaking the law you have a number of options open such as contacting CSA or the minister with that legal opinion.  But probably the thing that is likely to get the quickest action is to go to the media on a show such as Current Affair - they lap that sort of thing up and in my experience.

 
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Posted 11 February, 2012, 01:01 PM
#45259
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Oldboy said

In the short time I have been posting here I have seen a number of accusations CSA staff are DELIBERATELY and with INTENT and MALICE breaking the law.  That is a very strong accusation - very strong.  The claim is they are not making a mistake - anyone can do that - I do it all the time - but do it with forethought.
Yes, Oldboy, we all make mistakes from time to time.

But when an SCO in possession of a full and frank disclosure of my financial affairs sees that the assessment by the Formula is in fact correct and states explicitly her letter of decision that she has decided to "arbitrarily" determine an Assessment amount, that is NOT a mistake - that is a conscious decision with no basis in the legislation.

Also, my attachment didn't work in my last post - here it is

Attachment
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Posted 11 February, 2012, 01:44 PM
#45261
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seriously said

Yes, Oldboy, we all make mistakes from time to time.

But when an SCO in possession of a full and frank disclosure of my financial affairs sees that the assessment by the Formula is in fact correct and states explicitly her letter of decision that she has decided to "arbitrarily" determine an Assessment amount, that is NOT a mistake - that is a conscious decision with no basis in the legislation.

Also, my attachment didn't work in my last post - here it is

You do not have access to re-use this attachment


As I said I am not going to make comments on legal stuff.  But again - why don't you consult a lawyer?  And while it is true CSA staff are not subject to judicial review for their actions (I knew that one because it was one of the first things I asked about when I started working there many moons ago) I believe, and someone can correct me if I am wrong, you can get any decision made by CSA taken to court.  It certainly says that in the literature.  If as you say what they did is illegal then it should be a no brainer and you will win with severe embarrassment to the CSA and possible disciplinary action to the person that made the decision with perhaps even dismissal.  Such things send powerful messages to all workers in an organisation.
  

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Posted 11 February, 2012, 03:28 PM
#45265
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Oldboy said

As I said I am not going to make comments on legal stuff.  But again - why don't you consult a lawyer?  And while it is true CSA staff are not subject to judicial review for their actions (I knew that one because it was one of the first things I asked about when I started working there many moons ago) I believe, and someone can correct me if I am wrong, you can get any decision made by CSA taken to court.  It certainly says that in the literature.  If as you say what they did is illegal then it should be a no brainer and you will win with severe embarrassment to the CSA and possible disciplinary action to the person that made the decision with perhaps even dismissal.  Such things send powerful messages to all workers in an organisation.

 
Oh, come on, mate. If I contact a Government Department I am usually confident and can expect that the public servants employed know their stuff and follow their code of conduct. That initially applies to the CSA once you have to deal with them and they shower you with their mambo jumbo terminology which sounds very impressive and intimidating. Do you really think that people will question what CSA tells them, mails them and forces upon them (initially)? Only when it starts to hurt, you start searching for answers, educate yourself and find out that you cannot trust what they say and do. And taking CSA to court? You cannot be serious!
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Posted 11 February, 2012, 03:47 PM
#45266
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Babushka said

Oh, come on, mate. If I contact a Government Department I am usually confident and can expect that the public servants employed know their stuff and follow their code of conduct. That initially applies to the CSA once you have to deal with them and they shower you with their mambo jumbo terminology which sounds very impressive and intimidating. Do you really think that people will question what CSA tells them, mails them and forces upon them (initially)? Only when it starts to hurt, you start searching for answers, educate yourself and find out that you cannot trust what they say and do. And taking CSA to court? You cannot be serious!

Well we do have people here who claim what the CSA is doing is illegal.  Having worked for them I find that hard to believe - but they seem to believe it.  All I am suggesting is if they genuinely believe what the CSA does is illegal consult a lawyer.  And if they concur you have legal redress.  The idea of the CSA was to try and relieve a clogged up court system.  I even heard that some judges would rule the ex can go on welfare which, if true, appals me as a taxpayer.  Do people really believe the courts would make better decisions - if so take it to court - it is your right and what they are there for.  If it was all turned over to the courts I reckon we would still have exactly the same amount of angst as I see expressed here - only the lawyers would be megabucks richer.

Personally I believe what the CSA does is entirely in accordance with the law and from personal experience know they do not have bias one way or the other.



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