In response to the Report of the Senate Inquiry into ParentsNext, including its trial and subsequent broader rollout, a broad coalition of service providers, human rights bodies, peak bodies, researchers and advocates today calls time on ParentsNext.
One in five parents have had their payments suspended, which rises to 27 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Compliance is onerous and the penalties are severe, often leaving families with babies and young children unable to make ends meet. Parents subject to the program are mostly mums providing care for a young family, with many experiencing financial insecurity in the wake of escaping family violence. The harsh reality of this program is completely out of step with the needs of struggling families and community expectations.
This week, the Federal Government signed up to a landmark United Nations agreement committing to promoting the rights of women*. The Government agreed that social security programs should not discriminate against women, including by adding to women’s unpaid work; reinforcing gender stereotypes; or disproportionately punishing women, such as through financial sanctions. The ParentsNext program fails in all respects.
It is time to honour the commitments made on the world stage back home in Australia. We call on all parties to repeal the legislative instrument that allows the Government to enforce discriminatory compliance requirements and payment suspensions onto some of Australia’s most financially disadvantaged families.
We call for a commitment to listen to the voices of single mothers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are the primary targets of this program. Backed with evidence collected through 73 submissions and testimony to the Senate Inquiry, it is incumbent on all parties to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality and treating all families fairly.
National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council
Australian Council of Social Service
Human Rights Law Centre
Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare
Associate Professor Beth Goldblatt, University of Technology Sydney
Equality Rights Alliance
National Foundation for Australian Women
Domestic Violence Victoria
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519
*The sixty-third Commission on the Status of Women’s Agreed Conclusions.