On May 6, women gathered in Melbourne dressed in pyjamas and hair curlers, ready for the Mothers’ Day breakfast in bed that they never get because of poverty and the stress of being a single parent. The action was to call for an end to poverty for single mothers.
Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) project worker Kerry Davies told the protesters that “single mothers and their children are Australia’s poorest families and are now the single highest group of homeless people in this country”.
“Most single mothers live in increasingly unaffordable private rental properties”, she said. The CSCM is calling for the state government to cap the cost of private rent and boost the amount of subsidised housing.
One single mother at the rally told Green Left Weekly that she and her children had to camp on the doorstep of the Office of Housing before she was finally housed.
Davies and others at the rally called on the federal Labor government to repeal the previous Howard government’s “Welfare to Work” law. Under this law, single parents only receive a parenting payment until their youngest child turns eight and then they are forced to get work or go onto the lower Newstart Allowance. This represents a $38 cut in weekly income.
“The federal and state governments must commit to supporting our children through VCE [the Victorian Certificate of Education] if they are fair dinkum about breaking this cycle of poverty”, Davies said. “A quarter of Victorian single mothers cannot afford the uniforms and books needed for their children's schooling.”