Under changes made to the Child Support legislation, the SSAT was given the powers to review an objection decision that was made on or after 1 January 2007. An objection decision is a decision taken as a result of an internal review of an original CSA decision by a CSA Objections Officer. Both parents have a right to seek a review of most CSA objection decisions. Each time there is a new objection decision there are rights of review from that particular decision. When an application for review is lodged with the SSAT, the SSAT cannot, except in very limited circumstances, refuse to deal with the application.
Once an application for an SSAT review is lodged, the SSAT is obliged to conduct a full merits review of the decision. Therefore, the entire decision is reviewed. A party cannot request a review of only part of a decision because that is not consistent with full merits review.
This can vary, but usually about 10-12 weeks from the date of lodgement. Complex cases may take longer to finalise.
You may, but are not obliged to, obtain legal advice. Often
parties appear without representation.
If you require information about a lawyer who could provide you with this type of advice you may wish to contact your local law society or law institute in your state. They may be able to assist in providing some names of lawyers who practise in the particular field of child support law.
If you cannot afford legal advice, there are a range of community legal services that may be able to assist. Details of these services can be found in the Community Service Directory on the Child Support Agency website www.csa.gov.au.
Only those particular legal services can indicate whether or not they can provide you with legal advice in your particular case.
The other party and Child Support will be told about your application for an SSAT review. You will receive papers relating to your review from Child Support within a period of approximately 28 days. You will be notified about a date of the hearing, or if a directions hearing is to be held, you will be notified about the date of the directions hearing. The SSAT Case Manager can explain the process in greater detail.
Hearings are required by law to be conducted in private. A party may have a representative make submissions at the hearing on the party's behalf, with the permission of the SSAT Principal Member or a delegate.
For further information please refer to Representatives.
The common hearing methods are face-to-face (both parties present in the same room) or by telephone (by conference telephone with both parties simultaneously). Sometimes a hearing may be conducted by video-conference link and on occasion, one party appears by telephone and the other in person. In some cases the SSAT may direct the method of hearing, or direct a variation to the usual arrangements.
As a matter of procedural fairness, both parties must be given
an opportunity to comment on each others' information.
For further information please refer to Information Exchange.
If you are the applicant, you may withdraw or discontinue the application for review at any time but must notify the SSAT of the withdrawal or discontinuance in writing. Once the notification is received by the SSAT, the application is taken to have been dismissed.
If you are not the applicant, you may choose not to exercise your right to make written submissions and/or oral submissions to the SSAT. You should inform the SSAT Principal Member in writing as soon as possible that you do not intend to make any submissions to the SSAT.
If you do not intend to make any submissions, you will not be sent copies of any written submissions made by other parties to the review and/or of any documents given by other parties to the SSAT.
If you inform the Principal Member that you do not intend to make oral submissions, the SSAT can hear the application for review without you being present. Non-attendance at the hearing will mean that you do not have the opportunity to respond to evidence given at the hearing. Your non-attendance could adversely affect the prospects of the SSAT's decision being as favourable to you as the decision of the Child Support Registrar.
However, if the SSAT is unable to give proper consideration to the review without information or documents which you would be expected to have, the SSAT Principal Member or delegate may give you a written notice requiring you to give the information to the SSAT, and/or to attend before the SSAT to answer questions, and/or to produce the documents.
Such a notice is given under section 103K of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act and it is an offence punishable by imprisonment to refuse or fail to comply with the notice.
You can withdraw your application for an SSAT review at any time but note that the legislation requires that a withdrawal of an application must be in writing. You can email or fax this information to your Case Manager. If you withdraw, the law states that the SSAT Principal Member will be taken to have "dismissed" your application [section 100A(2) of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988].
A copy of the application for review is sent to the parties
(which may be the SSAT's record of an application taken by
telephone). Usually this copy is included with documents sent to
the parties by the Child Support Agency. This application usually
contains some brief information about the basis for the
The CSA will also send you documents relevant to the review. These papers contain the objection decision (i.e. the decision by the Objections Officer in the CSA which is being reviewed by the SSAT)
Any additional information the SSAT receives relevant to the matter will be sent to you.
The SSAT's Case Manager cannot provide you with any further explanation over and above what is contained in the papers. He or she has not been involved in the matter prior to the application being lodged with the SSAT.
The Case Manager does the administrative work in relation to your case. Case Managers are not involved in the decision-making process. Anything you wish the SSAT to consider must either:
For further information please refer to Case Managers.
No. Case Managers cannot discuss this with you or give you advice as they are not involved in the decision-making process. The SSAT member(s) who conduct the hearing will consider each individual case on its merits. They will consider all the relevant facts and law before reaching a decision.
The applicant must lodge the application for an SSAT review themselves if lodging an application by telephone. This is because it is difficult for the SSAT to establish any authority for anyone else to lodge the application on the applicant's behalf.
The SSAT will hold a directions hearing with you and the
other parties affected by the review if it would assist the
Tribunal in its review of the decision.
A directions hearing is usually held in 'change of assessment' reviews.
The member who convenes the directions hearing will:
A directions hearing is conducted, by telephone, by the SSAT
member who will preside at the hearing of the review. The telephone
used by a party must be in a quiet area where the party will not be
interrupted or overheard. A mobile phone should not be used as loss
of connection or audibility problems may occur.
As something said at the directions hearing might be sought to be relied on at the hearing of the review, the directions hearing will be electronically recorded.
If the SSAT decides to convene a directions hearing, a party to a "change of assessment" review must participate in it.
No. Directions hearings are conducted by telephone.
The directions hearing will be conducted as a three-way telephone hearing so that both parties can hear each other and the member.
You will need to have the documents which were sent to you by
Child Support for the purpose of the review. You should also have
with you any other documents which might be relevant to the
Even if you have a representative, you are required to participate in the directions hearing.
Many child support applications involve a close consideration of a person's financial circumstances. The SSAT requires full and frank disclosure of income, expenditure, assets and liabilities to make the appropriate decision. You must complete the "Statement of Financial Circumstances" form and return it to the SSAT within 14 days of receiving it. For further information please refer to Financial Information.
Yes. There are consequences for non-compliance.
The SSAT Principal Member may direct that you no longer be a party to the review for your failure to comply with a direction or order of the SSAT or of the SSAT Principal Member or delegate given in relation to the review.
If you are removed as a party to the review, you will not be entitled to attend the hearing or make submissions to the SSAT. You will not receive a copy of any further evidence or material that may be before the SSAT in making its decision. The SSAT's decision may be less favourable to you than the decision of the Child Support Registrar and you may not have a right of appeal against the SSAT's decision.
If you do not provide information and documents as directed, the SSAT might infer that the information and documents do not support what you have told the Child Support Registrar or the SSAT. This is known as an adverse inference.
For information on directions, please refer to Formal Directions/Notices.
No. The time and date of the hearing will be set by the SSAT. If there is any particular day or time you cannot attend your hearing you should discuss this with your Case Manager as soon as possible before a date is set. The SSAT cannot accommodate ordinary work and household commitments but will have regard to significant reasons for unavailability such as an illness which is of sufficient severity to prevent a person participating in the hearing even on the telephone.
A request for an adjournment must be made in writing, and must state the reasons for the request. Any supporting evidence, such as a medical certificate or report, must be provided with the request. A medical certificate or report must state why the party is not fit to participate in a directions hearing. The request must be made at the earliest opportunity before the directions hearing.
You should set aside at least one and a half hours. Occasionally, a directions hearing may take up to three hours. You must make sure that you are able to fully participate in the directions hearing without interruption.
The SSAT will determine how any non-compliance should be dealt
with. The consequence may depend on the degree of
The SSAT Principal Member or delegate may direct that a party no longer be a party to the review, and the SSAT may proceed to decide the application without submissions from that person. The SSAT may draw adverse inferences against a party if that party fails to comply with a direction to give information or evidence to the SSAT. If the other party is the applicant and has been removed as a party then the SSAT may decide to dismiss the review with your consent.
If you are removed as a party:
Under the Child Support legislation you are legally required to
provide any information to the SSAT as directed.
You have an obligation to make full and frank disclosure to the SSAT of, for example, your financial affairs in a departure application (change of assessment matter) or in any matter where such affairs are relevant. The SSAT member(s) make decisions based on the information available and may make an adverse inference if you do not provide information requested. If you receive a "Statement of Financial Circumstances" form from the SSAT, you must complete the form and return it to the SSAT within 14 days of receiving it. Please note that in most cases the SSAT is the last "merit" based review right - and in most cases you can not provide new information later (factual material) to an appeal court.
It is up to you what information you supply to the SSAT, in addition to any directions made by the SSAT to produce certain information. Any matter and information that you believe is relevant to the application should be put before the SSAT. A Case Manager cannot give you advice about whether you have supplied enough material.
It is not appropriate for the SSAT to act as advisor and tell
parties exactly what evidence they should provide. Such advice
would be inconsistent with its independent decision-making role.
However, the following information is provided to assist parties to
make a decision about evidence they may provide.
Ask yourself the questions:
Any "evidence" should relate to the earlier questions. If your
case is that something has occurred (whether that is a payment has
been made by you; that you have incurred expenses; that someone is
employed; that an agreement was reached about schooling; that you
have care of the children in a particular period), any "evidence"
which helps to show that that is the case may assist the SSAT. This
evidence may be in the form of a document, or a witness to give
Here are examples of the types of evidence produced in some matters:
Although the SSAT is not bound by rules of evidence the more
direct and first hand the information is the more reliable it is.
The more remote or second hand it is the less weight it will
If a document is critical to your case it may be preferable for you to provide a copy to the SSAT prior to the hearing and bring the original document, especially if there is any issue about the genuineness of the document. Where there is no issue about the genuineness a copy of the document should suffice.
You should ensure that the material you bring is relevant to the issues raised in the application. It is unhelpful to have abusive correspondence between parties unless it is produced to show something relevant. It needs to have some other purpose than showing the other person in a bad light.
If you are not the applicant (the person who lodged the
application for an SSAT review) it is your choice whether or not
you participate in the review process. Generally, you can
participate by telephone if you are unable, or do not wish, to
attend in person.
However, you need to be aware that there may be ramifications to your child support payments if you choose not to participate. You have a right of response to the review as your interests may be affected by the outcome of the review.
If you do not participate you will not hear what is said at the hearing by the other party. You will not be able to tell the SSAT your version of events or respond to matters put by the other party. The SSAT will not have the benefit of your input. A decision may be made which is against your interests. If you do not participate but then do not agree with the decision which is made you cannot ask for the matter to be reheard by the SSAT. You have lost the right you had to put facts to the SSAT. You can only appeal on a point of law and generally an appeal court will not admit facts or material which was not before the SSAT.
You can bring anyone to the SSAT premises but the hearing is
required by law to be held in private. This means that the SSAT
restricts who can enter the hearing room. If you intend to bring a
witness to give evidence at the hearing you must notify the SSAT at
least 14 days before the hearing. For further information please
Who can attend a hearing?
Important: Children should not be brought to the SSAT as they are not permitted in the hearing room and the SSAT does not provide any child care or minding facilities. Children also cannot by law be used as witnesses.
You may have a lawyer make submissions to the SSAT on your behalf, with the permission of the SSAT Principal Member. If you have a lawyer as your representative, you need to meet this cost yourself. The SSAT has no power to make orders for legal costs.
For more information please refer to Representatives.
You should send it to the SSAT at the earliest opportunity. The Presiding Member (chair of the hearing panel) will decide whether or not it is to be taken into account. Late receipt of information may cause a delay in finalising the hearing as it is important that other parties have an appropriate opportunity to consider and respond to all material.
Yes, both parties will be present at the time of the hearing,
unless the hearing is by telephone or the other party has elected
to be removed as a party from the review. The parties are heard
together so that the hearing is procedurally fair and so each hears
what is being said by the other.
The hearing is controlled by the member(s) of the SSAT who are conducting the hearing. You are addressing your comments to the SSAT member(s), not the other party. At most sites a security guard is routinely present at SSAT premises at all face-to-face CSA review hearings.
If there is a current family violence order against a party, that party must participate in the hearing by telephone, unless it is determined by the SSAT Principal Member or delegate that the party protected by the order is to participate by telephone.
You must provide the SSAT with a copy of the order.
If you have a current family violence order, or any order of a similar type, you must provide a copy to your Case Manager within 14 days of making or being notified by the SSAT of the application for review. You must also advise your Case Manager if your whereabouts, residential address, contact details and place of employment are not known to the other party due to a history of family violence. If you obtain a family violence order against another party to the review, after making the application for review or after being notified of the application for review but before the hearing, you must give the SSAT a copy of the order as soon as possible.
In most cases, the party against whom there is a current family violence order must participate in the hearing of the review by telephone, however, the SSAT Principal Member or delegate may determine that the party protected by the order participate by telephone. You will not need to speak directly to the other party, only to the SSAT member(s) who are conducting the hearing, however you will be able to hear the other party's responses and vice versa.
At the hearing, you will need to have with you the documents
that were sent to you by Child Support. If your SSAT Case Manager
has sent you any additional documents, please also have these
documents with you.
Please note that new information will be accepted at the hearing only with the permission of the presiding member and late production of documentation may delay the resolution of the hearing. It is your responsibility to provide information to the SSAT by the date specified in any directions given to you or where no directions have been made at least 14 days before the hearing (or 28 days if either party resides overseas).
Ordinarily, yes. You can however request to participate by telephone rather than attend in person. In most sites, security guards are often in attendance at SSAT premises for either child support or other hearings. Please remember the hearing setting is such that you are addressing your comments to the SSAT member(s), not the other party. The SSAT member(s) control the hearing and do not allow disrespectful, time-wasting or harassing behaviour.
The SSAT's powers are contained in the Child Support
(Registration and Collection) Act 1988. The SSAT has the power
to affirm (confirm), vary or set aside (change) the Child Support
Powers which may be exercised by the SSAT Principal Member or a delegate include:
The SSAT takes a fresh look at the case, taking into account any events which might have occurred since the original decision was made. The SSAT's findings are usually based on information contained in the CSA file and the evidence presented by the applicant and other parties to the review. In making decisions, the SSAT applies the relevant legislative provisions to its findings of fact. In interpreting those provisions, the SSAT is bound to follow decisions of the Federal Circuit Court, the Federal Court, the Family Court and the High Court. It also follows its own relevant previous decisions and decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, although it is not strictly bound by them.
Anyone can attend at the SSAT premises but the hearing itself is
required by law to be private and only people performing particular
roles are permitted to be in the hearing room. For further
information please refer to
Who can attend a hearing?
If you wish to have your current partner (or any other witness) give evidence at the hearing you must notify the SSAT at least 14 days before the hearing. The presiding member will decide whether the SSAT will take evidence from the person. For more information, refer to Witnesses.
You may put these questions to the SSAT member(s) at the hearing. They will determine whether the questions are relevant and decide what questions will be put to the other party. Often the questions will then be asked of the other party by the SSAT member(s). It is up to the SSAT to control the hearing process.
Hearings are usually conducted by one or two members. SSAT members are not public servants but are appointed to be members of the SSAT by the Governor-General. They have varied backgrounds which may include law, accounting, welfare or public administration. One of the members at the hearing is the 'presiding member' who chairs the hearing.
No. Ordinarily the SSAT member(s) would not receive information which has not been provided to all parties. The usual practice is that anything you send to the SSAT will be given to all parties involved in the review, unless the SSAT member(s) decide that the document or information contained in the document is not relevant to the review. For further information please refer to Information Exchange.
Ordinarily both parties (payer and payee) will participate in the hearing and be asked to explain why they agree or disagree with the Child Support decision. A representative from Child Support does not usually attend the hearing. On occasions the SSAT will request the attendance of someone from Child Support.
A party may have a representative make submissions at the hearing, with the permission of the SSAT Principal Member or a delegate. Other persons such as support persons or witnesses will only be in the hearing room if the presiding member considers it appropriate.
Often a decision is not made on the day of the hearing. Sometimes the SSAT will need additional time to make a decision, for example, in cases where the members need to discuss the case between themselves or additional information is required. If the matter is not adjourned, you should get your decision within 14 days of the hearing.
Adjournments are made for one or more of the following reasons:
Adjournments will not be granted to cater for the particular convenience of one party.
If you want the SSAT to adjourn a hearing or directions hearing, you must:
Yes, if it is relevant to the review and contains new information which calls for a response. The SSAT member(s) will make this decision.
The presiding member must decide whether information or submissions received after the hearing are to be taken into account by the SSAT in making the decision on the review. If the material is to be taken into account, the parties must be given an opportunity to make a written response to the material. Where a response is received by the SSAT, an opportunity to reply to the response will be afforded to a party only in exceptional circumstances.
Time for adjournments is limited. Some complex cases may however take longer to resolve. The SSAT may refuse to adjourn a hearing if it had already been adjourned once or if it is satisfied that granting another adjournment would be inconsistent with its responsibility to determine reviews as soon as reasonably practicable.
No, not usually. In a very small number of cases, if necessary, there may be a reconvened hearing. This is determined by the Presiding Member.
Not usually. Very good reason would need to be demonstrated as
to why the new information was not produced at the hearing, e.g. it
came into existence unexpectedly after the hearing and is relevant.
It will be up to the Presiding Member to decide whether to allow
further information to be provided at that point.
Once the SSAT's decision has been sent to the parties, no new information will be accepted by the SSAT.
If a decision is made on the day of the hearing, you should get
your decision within 14 days of your hearing.
If there is an adjournment of the matter you will receive your decision within 14 days of the day on which a decision is made.
You will be notified if there is an adjournment.
Once a decision has been provided to the parties, the SSAT is unable to re-consider your review. If you believe the decision is wrong on a matter of law you can lodge an appeal with a court. The Federal Circuit Court is the court which most frequently deals with such appeals. The Family Court and certain State and Territory courts may also deal with such appeals. You also have review rights to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if the decision related to an extension of time request or a care decision which relates to the care of children after 1 July 2008.
Once a decision is handed down, the SSAT is unable to re-consider the matter. It cannot be re-listed before other members. If you have a complaint you wish to lodge with the SSAT about the way you were treated by the member(s) you should put this in writing, and in turn your complaint will be responded to in writing. For further information please refer to Complaints.
No, decisions are advised in writing. The decision is finalised at the time the copies are despatched to the parties.
No. You are only able to speak to the member(s) at a directions hearing or in a hearing.
The SSAT does not have the recordings of its hearings transcribed. The SSAT Child Support Review General Directions 2012 prohibit the SSAT from giving the recording, or a copy of it, to a party. However, if a party has filed an appeal under section 110B of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (the Act) or has applied for review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal under section 103VA of the Act, a copy of the recording will be given to Auscript (see below for details) for preparation of a transcript of the hearing at the expense of the party. The party wishing to purchase the transcript should complete an Auscript order form. The cost associated with a transcription request is indicated on the order form. The cost must be paid by the person requesting it. It is not paid for by the SSAT.
Level 16, Santos Place
32 Turbot Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
Phone: 1800 287 274
Fax: 1300 739 037
You need to contact the CSA to obtain information on how the SSAT's decision will affect your child support as the CSA implements the decision. The SSAT Case Manager cannot provide this information. The members and SSAT Case Managers are not involved in implementing the decision.
If you are a party you have a right of appeal from the SSAT's decision.
Your SSAT Case Manager cannot explain the decision to you as
they were not part of the decision making process. The SSAT's
reasons are set out in writing (unless given orally). The SSAT
cannot provide additional reasons or explanations for the decision.
The written reasons alone are the explanation for the
If you want to know about the effect the decision will have on your child support case, you need to speak to the CSA. You may also wish to seek legal advice if you do not understand the decision.