Single parent pensions cut

TOUGH ON PARENTS: Lismore mum, Rosie with her son Zavi could be doing it tougher under changes to the single parent pension.
TOUGH ON PARENTS: Lismore mum, Rosie with her son Zavi could be doing it tougher under changes to the single parent pension.

THE FEDERAL government's new changes to single parent pension payments could see thousands of single parents left in financial hardship from January next year. The Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Incentives to Work) Bill 2012, passed in parliament this week, will see single parents whose children turn eight-years old pushed from the single parents' pension onto Newstart payments, effectively receiving about $60 a week less. Up until now, single parents have been eligible for the Parenting Payment Single until their children turned 12-years old. Welfare groups across Australia have been campaigning to see the bill overturned, saying the government's attempts to make savings in the budget will place over 100,000 single parents and their children into an even greater risk of poverty and homelessness.

CEO of Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC), Tony Davies said while the bill was attempting to increase the numbers of people returning to the workforce, it would not be effective unless the government also provided more new ways to facilitate single parents' participation in the workplace.

About one in seven single parents find it hard to secure paid work because they are caring for a child with a disability, have a disability themselves, or have limited qualifications.

"These payment cuts are unlikely to lead to any significant improvement in their employment prospects or skills and by shifting people to lower payments, the bill would simply make them poorer and have a significant adverse impact on families in our region," Mr Davies said.

According to census statistics, the Richmond-Tweed region has a greater percentage of sole parent families (19%) than in the rest of the country (16%) and about 90% of these families are headed by women.

"We live in a regional area where employment opportunities are hard to find and there are not a lot of options for people who need to take low-paid, part-time work that fits around their living situation," Mr Davies said. "Over time, it will increasingly disadvantage families as the cost of living increases more than the increase in Newstart allowance and the working poor with young, primary school children will not be able to afford many things such as after-school care, sporting activities and other living costs.

Single mum from Lismore, Rosie has a 16-month-old son while the legislation changes will not affect her for a few years yet, she was worried about what that it will mean for her ongoing ability to look after her son.

"I was pushed into being a single mum when my husband passed away a year ago," Rosie said. "I ended up losing our family business and my job; it's not like we chose to break up and as a result, I was forced into dealing with Centrelink.

"It's already scary for me now because I'm going to have to sell the house and change my situation. I worry that I won't be able to keep up my home loan repayments, especially with the increasing interest rates as well as increasing costs for rates, insurance, water, electricity and other bills.

"I'd like to get back into work, but there are not many jobs in the local area; you need qualifications to get a job and it's easier for people going straight into work after school than it is for someone who's been a parent for a while. If I'm going to have to make cuts to my spending, it would be for luxuries like the internet, computer or my mobile phone, I wouldn't keep my son from getting what he needs."

A new service to help families affected by changes to parenting payments has just been established at YWCA NSW Northern Rivers. Louise Collins is the coordinator of the new Working for Families service under the Communities for Children Project (CfC) and will work with local support services to help families affected by the changes to parenting payments. The service may be able to assist people to access training, parenting networks and help them navigate Centrelink services and learn practical skills like budgeting, balancing work and family life and dealing with stress. Interrelate Family Centres will also be starting a Single Parent Social Group under CfC. Phone 6623 2750.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Ups and downs in NBN quest to leave no home behind

Toowoomba's David Shinners and his son Hugh and wife Julie find online life easier with the NBN.

Faster broadband means fewer people will leave the regions for work.

Our love affair with the internet is growing

Gympie West's Micah, Kathy, Rob and Mitchell Pitt, with their dog Winston, enjoying their devices through the National Broadband Network.

We do it in bed, at work, in the kitchen ... and on the loo.

Waiting for NBN: what you need to do next

NBN's "check your address” feature shows the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin office should be able to connect to the National Broadband Network from January 2017.

Find out where your region is at with the NBN rollout.

Local Partners

New doco argues ‘OJ Simpson is innocent, and I can prove it’

O.J. Simpson

NEW documentary series claims to have found “missing evidence".

REVIEW: Undressed is more than titilating entertainment

Nathan and Tahlia meet for the first time on the TV series Undressed.

'DIVERSE' dating show goes more than skin deep.

Will there be a Game of Thrones spin-off?

Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage in a scene from season six episode 10 of Game of Thrones.

HBO’S original programming president has teased fans.

Ed Sheeran's intimate gigs down under

Singer Ed Sheeran

CHART-topper playing invite-only shows in Australia next month.

Eddie McGuire's scandal-free focus and new-look Hot Seat

Eddie McGuire hosts the new Millionaire Hot Seat Super Game.

HOST wants out of the hot seat himself to focus on game show revamp.

Embattled Amber Sherlock back on TV after leaked video

Amber Sherlock seems to have brushed off the leaked video

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Pat Rafter's $18m Coast home proves hot property

PAT'S PAD: The Sunshine Beach home of tennis ace Pat rafter is on the market for a record price.

"It's a record for our company and for the Sunshine Coast.''

INTERACTIVE MAP: Which Northern Rivers towns boomed in 2016?

BOOM TOWNS: While Ballina properties continued to attract top dollar in 2016, it was areas to the south that experienced price hikes, including Wardell, Evans Head and Woodburn.

Click on our map to find the median sale price in your town

Fincal Verdict: Rent or Buy?

Housing generic.

Australia's love affair with property seems to know no end

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!