Make ParentsNext Voluntary
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ParentsNext is part of the new DHS legislation that requires women with children from just 6 months old to participate in ‘job seeker’ like activities. The program is punitive. If parents don’t make an appointment due to their child being sick or other reasons associated with poverty, then their payments are cancelled. This means the Government is taking desperately needed money away from potentially impoverished women and children. This is particularly concerning considering the Government has touted ParentsNext as addressing intergenerational poverty.
ParentsNext legislation is in breach of several international Conventions.
ParentsNext is in breach of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It is also in breach of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It should be reported to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Australia signed onto the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, or ICESCR, in 1975, which includes the right to social security. The United Nations Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights advocates that there is ‘a strong presumption that retrogressive measures taken in relation to the right to social security are prohibited under the Covenant’
The ParentsNext Discussion Paper clearly states that women are the primary target of this policy, which makes it discriminatory towards women in denying them their rights for social security and also places children at risk.
The ParentsNext Discussion Paper states that “approximately 96 per cent of...participants are expected to be women”
Fathers are not a focus for this program.
This focus is on mothers those in our society who can least afford the time to prepare for employment.
Women spend 16 hours per week on housework prior to becoming a parent, which jumps to 30 hours per week when their youngest child starts school, while caring duties jump from 2 hours per week to 51 hours when a baby is born.
It is discriminatory to view mothers of young children as unemployed workers when they are in fact working longer hours than men in full time positions, but largely without remuneration.
The Parenting Payment system already imposes a high level of conditionality on receipt of Parenting Payments, which has increased poverty levels particularly for single mothers and their children
The Government pays ParentsNext providers KPI bonuses for assisting clients to achieve certain outcomes. These payments are misplaced, and will result in providers pushing clients to certain outcomes; this has been shown to not work for the Welfare to Work agencies.
The program should be voluntary and bonuses should be paid to the clients themselves. The program should be incentivised not punitive.
Several key organisations (see references below) strongly advise that mothers of young children, particularly those who are single parents, not be included in the job seeker category.
There is no evidence that sending a parent back to work or engaging them in work training or preparation when their youngest is under the age of 5 will improve their ability to enter paid employment when they are ready to do so. There is also no evidence that the activities outlined in the ParentsNext National Expansion Discussion Paper will improve barriers to employment such as disadvantage, mental or physical health issues, dealing with domestic violence or lack of completion of high school when the recipients are caring for very young children.
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