Since 2006 the federal Government has been moving sole parent families off the Sole Parenting Payment and onto the Newstart Allowance once their youngest child turns eight.
In May 2012 the Federal Government announced it would be moving an additional 100 000 sole parent families onto the Newstart allowance.
These changes have left one in four sole parent families living in poverty. The Newstart Allowance is not an appropriate benefit for sole parents. It does not recognise the additional costs incurred, and barriers faced by sole parents.
Governments have justified this change by arguing it will push more sole parents into paid employment, however 60% of people receiving the sole parenting payment were already in paid employment.
Many sole parents fail to find jobs because they are facing the difficulties of a tight job market. Unemployment has risen from 5.1% to 5.6% over the last year, and the number of job advertisements has steadily declined in 2013.
With workforce participation staying steady for the last four months, this policy has done nothing other than drive sole parent families into poverty.
There is a lack of adequate opportunities of part time and flexible positions that fit around school hours and caring responsibilities. Sole parents are often faced with employer prejudice, and only offered casual jobs that lack security.
Sole parents and their children deserve all the opportunities Australia has to offer. Ensuring that Australian children grow up free from poverty should be a key priority of all parties.