THE federal government’s poorly thought-out policy to cut welfare payments to single parents is not achieving its intended purpose.
Instead, the policy is driving many parents to despair, sending them to non-
government welfare agencies in the hope of help – and, in some cases, forcing single mothers into degrading jobs and situations to raise money for their families.
The Prime Minister and her Cabinet should be horrified.
The change in policy, which means single parents now have to provide for their families on only the Newstart unemployment allowance, which provides a paltry $35 a day, is designed to save treasurer Wayne Swan’s precious budget millions.
Yet the much-talked-about mining tax, which was to provide the government with a new revenue stream, has provided the budget with nothing.
How the government can consciously explain taking money from the poor and nothing from the rich mining companies that reap millions of dollars in profits from Australia’s natural resources is unfathomable.
Cutting welfare payments is designed to force single parents into work, but the policy is flawed.
Most parents would rather work, if they could find a job that suited the needs of their children. But what they are finding is the needs of employers do not match the needs of families.
Single parents have to juggle getting children to and from school and to other activities, such as sports training or music lessons. The flexibility they need is not available.
The children can’t be left to fend for themselves while their mother or father is at work trying to earn the money that will provide tomorrow night’s dinner.
Reports at the weekend said some single mothers were turning to prostitution and working in strip clubs to provide for their families.
Also, it was reported the Prime Minister’s own electorate of Lalor has the highest number of single parents who have been impacted by her government’s shoddy decision.
Hardly an example of the local member serving the needs of her constituents!
Treasurer Wayne Swan also has his own problems, with an opinion poll of voters in his Brisbane electorate indicating he would lose his seat if an election was held now.
That’s no endorsement of how he is running the nation’s finances, or his effectiveness as the member for Lilley.
St Vincent de Paul chief executive officer John Falzon has described the federal government’s welfare cost-cutting as a poor policy decision and a cruel and unnecessarily punitive decision.
“It’s a disgrace,” he said, and so do we, along with a long list of others who are incensed by a government which is out of touch with the people it is supposed to protect.
When Labor won government in 2007 Julia Gillard said Labor fought the election knowing Australians deserved better. “I am determined to continue to move Australia forward,” she said at that time.
Why, then, are single parents and their families going backwards?