In 2016, there were almost 1 000 000 lone parent families in Australia, with 81.8 per cent headed by a single mother.1 The rate of poverty among lone parent families was 32 per cent, rising to 59 per cent in households where the parent was unemployed.2
Changes to Commonwealth social security policy relevant to lone parents have focused on reconnecting them with training and employment to insulate against the risks of long-term welfare dependence.3 Maintaining access to Parenting Payment Single, the primary benefit paid to lone parents, is contingent on mutual obligations that increase with the age of the youngest child. For targeted groups, additional participation requirements apply.4 When the youngest child turns eight years old, benefit entitlements switch to the lower Newstart Allowance.5 Since this change
commenced, rates of poverty among lone parent households have increased.6
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre) is the peak body for child and family services in Victoria. Its membership of over 150 community service organisations, students and individuals throughout Victoria consists of many direct service providers including FamilyCare, the main provider of child and family services in the Goulburn Valley and West Hume region of Victoria.
Service providers in Victoria have expressed increasing concerns about the impacts of social security reforms on single mothers and their children and the ability of state-funded services to meet their needs. This paper reflects on research about the impacts of social security reforms on single mothers and their children and examines the potential challenges that these impacts pose for the delivery of child and family services.
The Centre and FamilyCare conducted a survey in May and June 2019 to gather information from child and family services practitioners about these impacts. This paper provides analysis of the survey findings and highlights key themes evident in responses.
SOURCE: Tennant, D. and Bowey, K. “The impact of social security reforms on single mothers and their children.” FamilyCare, Australian Social Policy Conference Paper, September 2019.
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Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia