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New law will ensure more DPB parents name father

12 April 2005 Media Statement

New law will ensure more DPB parents name father

Legislation passed today will further reduce the number of sole parents on the DPB who refuse to name the other parent of their child, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said.

The Social Security (Social Assistance) Amendment Bill raises the penalty for sole parents who decline to name the other parent of their child from $22 to $28 a week. The changes, under section 70 A of the Social Security Act, will take effect on 1 July this year.

Steve Maharey says the new rules will strengthen measures in place since last year that have seen a 15.8 per cent drop in the numbers of sole parents who refuse to name the other parent of their child.

"In the 1990s the number of people refusing to name the other parent - usually the fathers - of their child grew by over 40 per cent. This government has reversed this trend and as a result we are seeing fewer people being penalised for not naming the other parent. The changes approved today will ensure this trend continues."

In addition to the penalties, Work and Income staff have been providing practical information and support to encourage clients to name the liable parent.

"Since 1 July last year, more than 14,000 sole parents have been interviewed by Work and Income staff about their deductions. As a result, nearly 3,200 people have had their deductions removed.

"The changes approved today will not disadvantage beneficiaries who have valid reasons for not naming the other parent of their child. Exemptions from 70 A penalties will remain in place for these people.

"Some people have good reasons for not naming the other parent of their child and Work and Income has processes in place to verify them. These can include an inability to confirm paternity or serious concerns about their family's safety.

"It's important to remember that 85 per cent of sole parents on benefit have established paternity and do apply for child support. There's a fine balance to strike in sanctioning parents without punishing children. I'm confident that the system approved today achieves this balance."

ENDS

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