Media Release: Eight-fold increase in Departure Prohibition Orders recovers $10 million in child support debts

25 October 2017

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

An almost eight-fold increase in Departure Prohibition Orders over the least two years has netted almost $10 million in outstanding child support debts.

In 2016/17 more than 1,800 Departure Prohibition Orders (DPOs) were issued to parents with significant outstanding child support debts, up from just 218 in 2014-15. 

The value of debts recovered has almost doubled to $9.9 million.

The Government conducts a range of compliance activities to collect outstanding child support. In 2015, we increased resources to undertaking DPOs, including introducing a third Departure Prohibition Orders team.

We also commenced data matching with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection which provides enhanced information about debtors who frequently travel in and out of Australia.

DPOs are then issued when there is evidence the parent has deliberately avoided their debts without reason and there’s a pattern of overseas travel.

When parents find themselves unable to travel freely outside of Australia, they’ll often find the finances to pay off their debts in full, or enter into a suitable payment arrangement.

In a recent case, a parent with an outstanding debt of over $100,000 was stopped at Perth airport and prevented from returning to their current country of residence.

The parent subsequently paid a lump sum amount and continued to work with the department over 12 months to clear the whole debt – a great outcome for the children involved.

Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge said DPOs are a successful tool to motivate parents who have persistently failed to pay their child support debts to meet their obligations.

“Most parents pay their child support in full and on time, however some go to lengths to avoid their financial responsibilities,” Minister Tudge said.

“When they do that, we will stop them at the airport from travelling abroad.

“People who persistently avoid their child support obligations shouldn’t be frequent international travellers.

“This initiative is working and children are better off as a result.”