Following the findings of the Senate inquiry into ParentsNext the Australian Greens are calling for the ParentsNext program to cease operating in its current form.
“The ParentsNext program must be made voluntary and the punitive, coercive demerit point system abolished” said Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services.
“There was strong evidence through the Senate inquiry process including recommendations from the Human Rights Commission to make ParentsNext voluntary and to abandon the Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) because of the impact it is having on low income women and their children. This evidence could not be ignored, which is why we provided additional comments.
“This program is clearly targeted at women as 95% of the participants are women. The Committee inquiry heard many distressing accounts of the impacts and consequences of the ParentsNext program.
“One of the key flaws and sources of distress for sole parents is the constant threat that a payment will be suspended or cancelled.
“Studies show that people who had been subjected to harsh compliance policies experience very high levels of psychological distress, which interferes with their capacity for longterm planning and effective engagement with employment and we heard that loud and clear through the submissions to the inquiry.
“So long as the TCF is in place providers, whether in ParentsNext or jobactive, it will play a punitive rather than a supportive role.
“Let’s be clear, this program takes away choice and control from women. Receiving social security in the form of a Parenting Payment should not call into question the quality of a recipient's parenting.
“We really need to have a more sophisticated and nuanced approach to social services and income support, people accessing our social safety net are not a burden or a budget deficit and the Government shouldn’t be trying at every turn to police people’s lives or chuck them off support payments.
“This program views mothers of young children as unemployed workers when they are in fact working long hours raising the next generation.
“There is no strategy to addressing child poverty in Australian despite over 700,000 children living in poverty and half of households receiving a Parenting Payment living in poverty.
“Should we see a Labor Government following the next election I will make it a priority to push them to make strong reforms to this program and abolish the TCF.
“Given the distressing evidence we have heard from mothers and parents both at the inquiry and in media reports I remain deeply worried for parents who will remain in poverty and under threat of payment suspension. The Minister must implement the immediate reforms recommended by the committee as priority.”
The full report can be found here.
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180