single parents

ParentsNext is a new Department of Human Services (DHS) program that was rolled out nationally last July for about 75,000 sole parents who are receiving Parenting Payment.

The program is compulsory for all single parents whose youngest child has turned five, unless they are living in a regional town with no employment opportunities.

The responsibility of governments to help with the costs of child-rearing has been a part of Australian social policy since the early 1920s, when the first widows’ pension (1926) and child endowment (1927) schemes were introduced.

Australia has recognised this principle since the Harvester judgment of 1907, which raised the issue of how much income was appropriate for a family with child-rearing responsibilities. For most of the 20th century, this was recognised in taxation policy, as well as in income support policies.

The recent Australian Council of Social Service report into poverty has found one third of sole parents live in poverty.

Many sole parents are suffering after being switched from Parenting Payment Single to the much lower Newstart Allowance. Under former prime minister Julia Gillard, about 100,000 sole parents were switched to the lower payment.

This June marks a four-year anniversary for my little family, made up of one parent and one little boy. I named him Ariel, which in Hebrew means “Lion of God”. I named him that because I knew our lives would be tough and he would need to be strong.
 
When I found out I was pregnant in August 2008 I decided instantly that I would be a mother. In the next 24 hours the father informed me he did not wish to be a father and would have no involvement in the child’s life — and so began my new life as a single mother.
 

There are two different visions for paid parental leave (PPL) — one put forward by the federal Labor government and the other by Liberal leader Tony Abbott.

Abbott’s proposal is seemingly not supported by industry or sections of the Coalition. It would provide 26 weeks’ full salary to mothers earning up to $150,000 a year. Partners could opt to be primary carer if they accept payment according to the mother’s replacement wage of up to $75,000.

Rallies were held around the country on April 13 to protest the federal government's cuts to single parent benefits which will force families deeper into poverty.

In the western Sydney suburb of Penrith, 30 people gathered to hear from speakers which included single parents, Penrith city councillor Michelle Tormey and founder of ChilOut, Dianne Hiles, who campaigns to get refugee children and families out of detention.

Photos: Tessa Barrett

Subscribe to single parents