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.

MoB please... not wine barrell

Dr Airdre Grant

What is fit for the Mother Of The Bride.

DPI puts Dolphin Marine Magic 'all but out of business'

A battle over seal enclosures at Dolphin Marine Magic threatens the facility's ability to stay open, Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser warns.

DPI crackdown a threat to Dolphin Marine Magic, warns MP

Young hands ensure a strong future for Lismore

PARKING MAD: The new parking restrictions around the Lismore Base Hospital had not been popular.

A promise is a promise and Mayor happy to have followed through.

Local Partners

TRAVEL: Musicals light up Sydney

David Campbell performs in Dream Lover.

We take a trip through one of Sydney's finer scenes

In Flames are super 'proud' of new album

In Flames album to be released in November.  Photo Contributed

In Flames to release new album in November

Selma Blair blames flight outburst on 'psychotic blackout'

Selma Blair

"I am someone who should never drink, and I rarely do"

Bob Dylan acknowledges Nobel Prize win

Bob Dylan has finally acknowledged his Nobel Prize win

WATCH: Trailer for Jackman's final Wolverine film released

First trailer for the last Wolverine film with Hugh Jackman.

Thrilling trailer promises a dark, dystopian finale for Wolverine

CCTV footage surfaces of Kim Kardashian West's robbers

The blurry footage shows three men on bikes and two on foot

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge

Bank could add towns to 'high-risk' home loan list

Suburban housing in Glenvale, Toowoomba, Friday, October 17, 2014. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle

NEW Gladstone region towns could be added unwanted bank list.

Tenants renting rooms on Airbnb breaching lease

Rental properties.

Tenants renting rooms on Airbnb is a no no