Back to All News

ParentsNext: a checklist from the 1950’s playbook of social policy double standards

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and reflect on what it means to be a woman in our community in 2019.

“It becomes more apparent, every year, that while we now condemn blatant discrimination against women in our society, many of the attitudes that allowed such discrimination persist in our social policy," Senator Rachel Siewert said.

“You only have to look at the number of single mothers living in poverty to see that the long history of social policies that denigrate women, particularly single mothers, is far from over.

“Between the 1950s and 1970s, society’s disdain for 'unmarried' mothers resulted in the forced removal of tens of thousands of babies for adoption. While this practice is now considered unacceptable, you have to ask - are the attitudes that allowed such practices to happen really over?

“Unfortunately the types of judgements, stereotypes and double standards that applied to 'unmarried' mothers are still felt in social policy. They are reflected in Government programs such as ParentsNext, a compulsory program for parents on income support, the majority of whom are single mothers.

“The moralistic undertones, the burden and blame put on women, the opacity of their legal rights, the coercion, assistance with strings and the idea that women cannot make decisions for themselves are issues that have all been raised about this program.

“Single mothers are being forced into a compulsory parenting program, being expected to comply with outlandish demands and are pressured into signing privacy waivers.

“Women don’t have equality when Government programs disproportionally hurt them and their decisions are undermined by social structures.

“On International Women’s Day let’s remember these Government decisions have deliberately targeted single mothers – these programs are sexist and should be called out as such.

“Equality and the empowerment of women will not be fully realised until it is intersectional and crosses the lines of class and race.

“Diminishing impoverished and sole mothers diminishes us all.”

Media Contact:

Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180

Back to All News