The government got it wrong – the facts on sole parents.

Featured image shows a black and white photo of two young kids sitting against a fence.

The attack on our welfare system has intensified by the axing of the Sole Parenting Payment, forcing single parents onto the totally inadequate Newstart allowance.

The Government claims that moving 110,581 sole parents onto lower income support payments when their youngest child turns eight will push them into paid jobs. However, 60% of those to be impoverished are already in part-time paid work and will lose more than $100 per week.

There is no evidence this shift to Newstart increased sole parent’s workforce participation over the past 5 years. In fact, it is the reverse. Similar cuts imposed on 40,000 more recent sole parents since 2006 have already failed to increase their paid work involvement. So why continue this policy?

Sole parents face potential bias from employers, who know they are likely to need time off to their children’s needs. Often therefore sole parents are only offered casual jobs (often low paid) that lack predictability, have no security or possibilities of promotion. Research shows that bad jobs damage parental confidence and skills. Well-paid jobs that fit children’s time needs are scarce[i].

ACOSS call to stop the cuts to single parents

ACOSS call to stop the cuts to single parents. Image shows many hands in the air.

Some facts you need to know,

The cutback on income hasn’t increased workforce participation. The most recent ABS family workforce data[ii] showed the employment rates of sole parents from 2005-2011. The annual changes over those 5 years rise and fall in ways that cannot be correlated with the policy changes, let alone allow anyone to claim for causality.

The employment rates for those on Newstart are much lower than for those on parenting payments. DEEWR statistics show that 60% of those left on parenting payments already were employed in paid work against approximately 25% of those who moved onto Newstart.

The official requirement is that sole parents take on 30 paid hours per fortnight. At $17 per hour, just over the minimum wage, this would contribute $510 extra per fortnight. However, this is not the net income, as the Newstart payment reduces by 40 cents per dollar earned over $62 per fortnight. This contrasts with a parenting payment threshold of $176 plus $24 per extra child, before the 40 cent cuts in.

So now out of a fortnightly $510, a sole parent now nets only $369.80, a loss of around $114, plus the basic $130 difference in the base payments. Out of this sum come the costs of any care, the related costs of going to work and the loss of time for child related activities for little over $10 per hour.

Get informed + Get active!

You can act! You can connect with the community leading for change. Here is how we are starting:

The F Collective and the Women’s Electoral Lobby are holding a forum:

Why pick on Sole Parents? Sexism, welfare and bad policy decisions

Thursday April 11th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

At the Wesley Centre, Level 3 220 Pitt Street Sydney.

Come along to this forum and talk about the role of the feminist movement in fighting for a decent social safety net, and what we can do to create change before the election!

Cassandra Goldie will be speaking about ACOSS’ appeal to the United Nations to challenge the Sole Parenting Payment cuts.

Speakers include:

Amanda Parkinson – journalist and F Collective member
Beth Goldblatt – Research Fellow at UNSW Social Policy Research Centre
Dr Cassandra Goldie – CEO Australian Council of Social Services
Eva Cox – feminist activist, the Single Parents Action Group

Child minding: Let us know at if you require child minding, and the age of your child.

2 Responses to “The government got it wrong – the facts on sole parents.”
  1. Sandra Searle (@SandraSearle) says:

    This is an important issue and yes, it would be great if we could change what we perceive as the governments attitude towards single parents.

    I may be being a little naive & possibly optimistic here but I feel that because there is a link now that those who have to move onto newstart and are being penalized financially. We all know how hard it is to exist on newstart, perhaps, because there has been a lot of noise made in this area, that we might see some change overall that includes a raise in the newstart allowance.

    Perhaps there will be some changes in the May Budget that will allow both recipients to live sustainably. I believe that our PM & her gov. have got the welfare of the people at heart and will do what is right, given that they are re-elected, this time with a clear majority so that they can finish off the many good works like Gonski & NDIS.

    There is another pressing problem that a clear majority will produce if re-elected and that is of course the Asylum Seeker issue.

    All problems will not be solved by a change of government, but they can be changed by working with those in government.

  2. Pam says:

    We should put all Labor and Liberal politicians on Newstart!

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