The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

6.9 Correction of errors under the CSA Act & CSRC Act

Act references

CSA Act section 75

CSRC Act section 42

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The Registrar has the power to amend an assessment or vary the Child Support Register to correct any error or mistake (CSA Act section 75, CSRC Act section 42), whether or not made by the Registrar.

Extent of Registrar’s discretion

A decision to correct an error or mistake is at the discretion of the Registrar. The Registrar is not obliged to consider correcting an error, however, if the Registrar considers whether an error should be corrected or left uncorrected, the Registrar will then proceed to make a decision to correct or not correct the error (see Deciding whether or not to correct an error below).

The Registrar will generally not consider whether or not to correct an error if the parents were aware of the error and have not requested that the error be corrected, or not corrected, in a reasonable timeframe.

Advising affected parents of an error

The Registrar will in all circumstances notify affected parents of identified errors, including where the Registrar has decided to correct the error. The Registrar may choose to advise affected parents of an error before deciding to correct (or not) the error where it is necessary to establish the facts, the error will have a significant impact on the parents, or for any other reason the Registrar considers relevant.

When notifying parents about an error (and any decision in relation to that error), the Registrar will also notify them that they may, subject to the CSRC Act, object to the particulars of the assessment or the Child Support Register to which the error relates.

Example: Nadezhda and Pyotr are assessed in respect of the costs of child Claude. The Registrar mistakenly records Nadezhda’s ATI as $190,000 when it is actually $19,000. The Registrar becomes aware of their error on the day after making the error. The Registrar immediately decides to correct the error and amends the assessment accordingly. The Registrar then advises the parents of the error, the decision to correct the error, and their review rights.

Deciding whether or not to correct an error

When deciding whether to correct (or not) an error, the Registrar will consider the objects of the Acts and the legislative requirements of the decision affected by the error. The Registrar can also consider circumstances including, but not limited to, the wishes of the affected parents, the integrity of the child support scheme, and the impact on each parent of correcting or not correcting the error.

Error correction decisions are made in the context of the particular circumstances of each case. The circumstances in one case may mean it is appropriate to correct an error in that case, but it may not be appropriate to correct a similar error in another case.

The Registrar may be more likely to decide to correct an error where:

  • it is an obvious error of fact, and can be fixed simply
  • it impacts the current assessment or liability
  • both parents want the error corrected
  • one parent wants the error corrected and the other parent does not want it corrected
  • the Registrar caused the error or substantially contributed to it
  • one parent wants the error corrected and the other parent cannot be contacted.

The Registrar may be less likely to decide to correct an error where:

  • neither parent wants the error to be corrected
  • there will be no material change to an assessment or financial impact as a result of the correcting the error
  • only one of the affected parents is contactable and they do not want the error corrected
  • there is no utility to correcting the error, or it would be inappropriate to correct – such as when the error is the subject of merits or judicial review proceedings (whether internal or external to Services Australia).

Example: In October 2023, the Registrar becomes aware of a system error that affected Segun’s income for the period January 2015 to April 2017. The error has a significant financial impact on the assessment for a past period, but does not affect the current liability. After becoming aware of the error, the Registrar advises both parents of the error and their review rights. The Registrar has not yet considered whether to correct the error. Both parents separately advise the Registrar that they do not want the error corrected. The Registrar makes a decision to not correct the error. The Registrar then advises both parents of the decision to not correct the error and their review rights for that decision.

Error correction is not a reconsideration of a decision

Reconsideration of the merits of a decision is not the same as correcting an error or mistake, even though correcting an error may change the outcome of a decision. Circumstances where it would be appropriate to lodge an objection to the Registrar's original decision include if the facts are not clear or they are disputed, or if there is new information that one parent has not had an opportunity to comment upon. If a parent wishes to have a decision reconsidered, they can choose to seek review through the objections process (4.1).

Example: The Registrar decides to set Florence’s income by way of an income amount order following an application for change of assessment under Reason 8 initiated by Marie. In the notice of decision, the Registrar advises the parents that the decision was based in part on information before the Registrar about the value of certain assets owned by Florence. Florence states that the Registrar has misinterpreted the information and its relevance, and contends that the Registrar has made an error which should be corrected.

The Registrar advises Florence that they should seek review by lodging an objection to the change of assessment decision.

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