Community Independent MPs Zoe Daniel, Kylea Tink, Dr Monique Ryan and Zali Steggall today joined called for the restoration of Single Parent Payment to mothers when their child turns 16 – currently they are switched to JobSeeker when their youngest child turns 8, losing $100/week.
This follows statements by Sam Mostyn AO, chair of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce and Professor Anne Summers AO, author of The Choice Violence or Poverty that the payment must be restored until children reach 16.
Zoe Daniel Independent MP for Goldstein said that 220,000 women receive the Single Parenting Payment (95% of recipients) – and more than 60% have left a violent relationship.
“In effect we are putting women in the position of choosing violence or choosing poverty. If they want to leave violence, they are choosing poverty for their children. This creates not only poverty and challenges for the mum, but intergenerational poverty for their children. “
Kylea Tink Independent MP for North Sydney said: “The reality is that single mothers in this country are currently being punished, by being told that when their youngest child turns 8 the payments that they receive to enable them to be the mothers they want to be, are significantly reduced. And putting them into a position where they need to decide: Do they eat? Do they move locations? Do they move into their car? or in some instances do they give their children up to social services?”
Dr Monique Ryan Independent MP for Kooyong said: “As a paediatrician, I’ve seen the impact of poverty on children. Increasing the Single Parenting Payment will decrease the intergenerational inequity that results from policy-induced poverty. Single mothers who are dependent on the Single Parenting Payment are struggling to put food on the table and pay for their kids’ clothing, school and health expenses. Increasing the Single Parenting Payment will help keep our kids safe and healthy and give them the best opportunity to realise their potential.”
Zali Steggall Independent MP for Warringah said she strongly supports raising the age of the Single Parenting Payment from 8 to 16.
“This is a simple fix that the Taskforce (for Women’s Economic Equality) has recommended to the Treasurer and to the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister wants to be seen to be more aligned and working on gender equality and equity, then this is a priority step that needs to be taken in the May Budget.”
Terese Edwards, CEO of Single Mothers Australia said: “It’s 50 years since Gough Whitlam introduced the Supporting Mothers Benefit, which removed economic discrimination for single mothers. That payment was accessible until the youngest child turned 18 or 24 if dependent and studying.
“We are now fighting to have the Parenting Payment Single restored to parents until their youngest child is 16 years – which will still be $57 per week below the single Age Pension.”
Single mother Claire experienced being switched off Parenting Payment onto Newstart (now JobSeeker) when her son turned 8:
“I had a really stressful job and I pulled a muscle and couldn’t get sick leave so had to go back on the payment. I was horrified to discover I had been switched onto Newstart. I had also won a scholarship to study Construction Management, but couldn’t afford to study. This meant I couldn’t advance my career to eventually earn more, be more stable and give my son the future he deserves. I had to keep working in lower-paid casual jobs to make ends meet.”
Anti-Poverty Week ED Toni Wren said, “single parents now lose at least $100 a week transferring from Parenting Payment Single to JobSeeker when their youngest child turns 8. If they are also working part-time, which many of them are, they are also hit with a tougher income test. For example, if they were earning $300 per week from a part-time job, they would also lose an additional $57 per week due to the harsher Jobseeker income test, a total loss of $160 per week.
“While 80% of all Australian single parent families are female, more than 95% of the poorest single parent families are headed by women – those who rely on inadequate income support payments,” Ms Wren said.
Read more on Why Parenting Payment Single must be restored