NDIS Criterion
NEWS  |  Politics

Peak Bodies Say Government’s ‘Witch-hunt’ on Single Parents is ‘Archaic’

Monday, 15th May 2017 at 4:49 pm
Rachel McFadden, Journalist
Australia's peak bodies for advocating for the rights of single mums have slammed the government's latest amendment to the single parent payment.

Monday, 15th May 2017
at 4:49 pm
Rachel McFadden, Journalist



Peak Bodies Say Government’s ‘Witch-hunt’ on Single Parents is ‘Archaic’
Monday, 15th May 2017 at 4:49 pm

Australia’s peak bodies for advocating for the rights of single mums have slammed the government’s latest amendment to the single parent payment.

In the 2017 budget, which aimed to “crackdown on welfare cheats”, the government announced from September 2018 single parents receiving welfare will need a third party to verify they are in fact single.

CEOs from Council of Single Mothers and their Children Victoria (CSMCV) and the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (NCSMC) have condemned the move, calling it disrespectful, humiliating and archaic.

“It harps back to the 1970s when single mums used to be in fear of people coming into their homes to check the closets for men’s clothes,” CSMCV CEO Jenny Davidson said.

Terese Edwards, CEO of NCSMC, said Australia was slipping back to a “shame culture” where single mothers are operating under a cloud of suspicion, reminiscent of the 1970s.

“What women have reported to us of that era were there were raids, visits and checks,” Edwards said.

“I really detest what it says about women, unless you can get third party, we won’t trust or believe you.

“We recognise that our welfare system needs to be robust and transparent to protect those who would falter and fall without it. However, I have seen no evidence that the single parent payment is rorted.”

Edwards and Davidson said the third party verification system was fraught with problems, from hostile third parties “dobbing in” single mothers, social surveillance that breached the privacy of a single mother and her children, to unfounded assumptions that a new partner would take on the financial responsibilities of a woman’s children.

“The assumption here is that if a woman has a relationship that the new partner is then taking on the cost of raising her children. That is a big assumption,” Davidson said.

“Women have the right to start a relationship without asking a new partner to take on the costs of raising their children.”

Edwards said the third party verification system went against the principle of being innocent until proven guilty.

“I know one woman who had someone phone into Centrelink to say she wasn’t a single mum. Her payment was automatically suspended which immediately caused financial hardship,” Edwards said.

They said single mothers and their children were at high risk of poverty.

According to the ACOSS Poverty in Australia 2016 report, solo parents, 84 per cent of whom are single mothers, have the highest prevalence of poverty of all family types and one third of single parent families are living below the poverty line.

“One of the surveys we conducted found that a number of single mums had reported forgoing the essentials to get by; skipping meals and medical appointments,” Edwards said.

But one of the most concerning reports, Edwards said, was that due to severe financial insecurity, 22 per cent of women in abusive relationships had returned to the relationship for some financial reprieve.

Edwards and Davidson said the third party verification was the latest in a string of attacks on single mums, one of the most devastating, was the stringent rules Newstart dictated once the youngest offspring turned eight.

“It fails to recognise the unwaged labour that goes into running a home and keeping a family,” Edwards said.

Davidson said instead of vilifying single mums the government should focus on collecting child support payments.

In a submission to the Australian National Audit Office in November 2016, CSMCV said single mothers have faced and continue to face, long emotional struggles to have their former husband or partner share the costs of raising their children.

“Figures from 2012 report $1.2 billion in unpaid child support payments, largely owed by fathers. This does not include private arrangements, which represents $2 billion of the total $3.5 billion in child support. 100 per cent compliance is assumed in the payment of privately arranged child support, but anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests this is far from the case. For some single mothers, these privately agreed arrangements are a continuing source of distress and dispute,” the report said.

Davidson said: “What the governments should be doing is chasing them to follow up on their child support. That is what they should be cracking down on and there is no discussion on that whatsoever.”

Rachel McFadden  |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews

Rachel is a journalist specialising in the social sector.


Yes we’re lawyers, but we do a lot more....


Brennan IT helps not-for-profit (NFP) organisations drive gr...

Brennan IT

HLB Mann Judd is a specialist Accounting and Advisory firm t...

HLB Mann Judd

NGO Recruitment is Australia’s not-for-profit sector recru...

NGO Recruitment

More Suppliers

Get more stories like this



Government Rejects Findings From Centrelink Robo-Debt Inquiry

Luke Michael

Thursday, 12th October 2017 at 8:27 am

HILDA Spotlights Changing Attitudes to Same Sex Couples and a Love of Lotto

Lina Caneva

Wednesday, 2nd August 2017 at 8:05 am

Social Sector Urges Government to Abandon Welfare Changes

Wendy Williams

Monday, 26th June 2017 at 8:40 am

Senate Calls for Robo-Debt Program to be Put on Hold

Wendy Williams

Thursday, 22nd June 2017 at 8:38 am


Disability Advocacy Group Fights to Restore State Funding

Luke Michael

Thursday, 9th November 2017 at 8:37 am

New Same-Sex Marriage Bill Looks to Protect Faith-Based Charities

Luke Michael

Monday, 13th November 2017 at 5:25 pm

Donors Looking for a Personalised Experience to Give More – Study

Lina Caneva

Wednesday, 8th November 2017 at 1:43 pm

Red Cross Moves to Wage-Based Fundraising Model

Lina Caneva

Thursday, 16th November 2017 at 8:30 am

One Comment

  • gandalph@trollmagic.net says:

    The actions of the current Federal Government in relation to those in the weakest positions in our society are nothing short of scurrilous.

    One would have thought that in 2017, we would have reached a stage beyond class warfare and a two-tiered society of rich and poor. – We haven’t.
    This is yet another example of this government’s increasing use of tactics more akin to majority world dictatorships and extreme regimes than it is of an enlightened and democratic society that cares for equity.
    Regardless of LNP rhetoric, this government is not one that acts for the good of the people and the sooner it is booted out, the better.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NDIS Criterion
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

The social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!