Charities Report Sole Parents and Unemployed in Urgent Financial Need

28 April 2009

Emergency relief providers and the Australian Council of Social Service are urging the Government to address the inadequacy of these payments received by these groups in the Budget.

Clare Martin, CEO, ACOSS: “Sole parent families and unemployed people struggle below the poverty line because their low payments are simply not enough to live on. Any pension increase in the Budget should include sole parents on Parenting Payment Single and single people on the Newstart Allowance.”

“The Harmer Review, which examined the adequacy of the pension, should be released ahead of the Budget so its conclusions on which groups are in hardship can be debated fully.”

Typically a single unemployed person receives about $227 per week and a sole parent with two children gets $550 per week (including Family Tax Benefit).

Dr John Falzon, St Vincent de Paul Society National CEO: “Sole parents and unemployed people are coming to us to help them stay afloat. In some instances around the country we are receiving reports that 60% of the people we are assisting are sole parents and unemployed people.

“A government that commits itself to a social inclusion agenda must ensure these two groups are genuinely included. Genuine inclusion means having enough income so that a person does not feel the need to seek assistance from a charity.”

“We will always be there to assist sole parents and unemployed people. But we know that what they really want is justice, not charity. Leaving them without a fair increase in their pension or benefit is not justice. And it is certainly not inclusion.”

Major David Eldridge, Salvation Army Australian Southern Territory: “Sole parents accounted for 47% of clients seeking assistance from Salvation Army Emergency Relief Centres over the past month. They come desperate for support to pay for food, rent, chemist, school and power bills.
With rising unemployment we expect to see even greater numbers of sole parents in financial crisis.
 
Barriers preventing sole parents finding employment are significant and they have a higher than average unemployment rate which is already in double figures, at over 10%.
 
If additional support is not available sole parent families will struggle to keep their children out of poverty.”