Chapter 3: Australia's child support system in the context of the welfare system and demographic change
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In this chapter, we outline the demographic and social policy conditions that frame the nature, purpose and function of the Australian child support system. We begin by setting out the social context in which the system operates. We then provide an overview of patterns of parental education, employment, and the distribution of wealth and poverty over time. We outline the social welfare policy context that frames the role and function of the child support system, including welfare-to-work requirements and childcare accessibility and affordability. Australian child support policy is being asked to do some heavy lifting in terms of minimising state responsibilities for children’s wellbeing upon parental separation in a context of low wages, income insecurity, high childcare costs and housing unaffordability. Given structural changes to employment, households and care, child support as a policy is becoming increasing incapable of achieving this task.

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