EXCLUSIVE: DIVORCE and family breakdowns are costing the national economy more than $14 billion a year in government assistance payments and court costs, an exclusive News Corp analysis has found.
That figure has blown out by $2 billion in the last two years alone, with each Australian taxpayer now paying about $1100 a year to support families in crisis.
The financial sting is one of the reasons why Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed he will overhaul early intervention strategies in a bid to strengthen Australian families.
Mr Andrews told News Corp that as early as this month he will act to establish an expert panel on early intervention, which will be made up of a mix of practitioners and academics.
It will examine strategies to lower the divorce rate and better identify and assist vulnerable children and young people, including looking at whether more psychologists need to be deployed in kindergartens and preschools across the country.
“The reality is that most programs are programs that try to ameliorate the impact of marriage and family relationship breakdowns,” he said.
“There is not enough that goes to early intervention.”
A News Corp analysis of information from the federal Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Social Services, shows that this financial year alone the government will spend $12.5 billion on support payments to single parents, including family tax benefits and rent assistance.
Another $1.5 billion will be spent on the administration of the child support system, while the cost to taxpayers from family disputes in Australian courts is $202 million.
Almost 50,000 people get divorced each year in Australia, and while the divorce rate declined between 2002 and 2008, it is now on the rise again.
Over the last two years, the cost of divorce to the national economy has increased by more than $2 billion, or 17 per cent.
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