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Council for Single Mothers and their Children turns 50

The Council of Single Mothers and their Children celebrated their 50th anniversary in style at a reception at Victorian Government House hosted by The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, on 27 August.

The Hon. Linda Dessau AC speaking at the reception with Jenny Davidson, CEO of CSMC.

Founding mothers and their children joined guests from across the community sector to mark the occasion. Jenny Davidson, CEO of CSMC gave invited guests a glimpse into life for the single mother in 1969.

“Many women who found themselves pregnant outside marriage were forced by social and financial pressures to relinquish their children for adoption. Our founders were women who overcame barriers and managed to keep their children. They chose to be defined in the positive, as single mothers, rather than by a deficit, as ‘unwed’.

“Early successes include securing the Single Mothers Benefit in 1973 and changing social mores by putting women’s stories of keeping their children in the media. CSMC also worked for close to 20 years to change the legal status of illegitimate children.”

Ms Davidson also took the opportunity to highlight the work that still needs to be done.  “Today, one in four single mothers is living below the poverty line. Punitive government policies, unpaid child support and a lack of secure, family-friendly job is further entrenching these families’ poverty. The effect upon these women and their children is that it undermines their health, wellbeing, and future.”

Former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe AO and his wife Renata at the reception with Toni Wren from APW and Alison McClelland AM, Chair of Good Shepherd Australia NZ Board

Anti-Poverty Week acknowledges the enormous achievements of CSMC and thanks Ms Davidson for her contribution to Anti-Poverty Week as Victorian Co-Chair in 2018 and 2019.

See CSMC website for more on the event and the work they do.