10 August 2021
ACOSS and the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children call on the Australian Parliament to ensure that the Human Rights Committee’s recommendation to make the punitive ParentsNext program voluntary is upheld.
The cross-party Parliamentary Committee’s report found that the ParentsNext program impinges on human rights and it has been followed by a welcome motion to Parliament to reverse the legislation that makes the program compulsory.
Following the tabling of the Committee’s report, a motion to make the program voluntary will be voted on in the Senate on Wednesday 11 August.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:
“We congratulate the Committee on its comprehensive and rigorous report which shows its commitment to ensuring Australia complies with human rights obligations.
“We call on the government to make the program voluntary and remove the automatic payment suspensions that have been causing so much harm to parents.”
CEO of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children, Terese Edwards, said:
“I would also like to congratulate the Committee. This is a victory for the many single mothers who worked so hard to show how this punitive program harms families.
“We urge Senators to vote with Senator Dodson on the motion to disallow the sections of the instrument that make the program compulsory.
“The ParentsNext program disrespects women and the significant task of sole parenting. It should have never been mandatory.
“It forced women to abide by a set of rules that were managed differently by the various providers. It affected women with young babies, there was no leaving the program even if it added stress or cost to a family. This included victim survivors of domestic violence, homelessness, anxiety, and other significant circumstances.”
ParentsNext is a program that was expanded in 2018 so that about 70,000 parents, mainly single mothers with children under the age of six years, are required to meet with a service provider and comply with a participation plan.
A cross-party parliamentary human rights committee’s scrutiny into ParentsNext has led to a Parliamentary motion to reverse the legislation that makes the program compulsory.
Following the tabling of the committee’s report, Labor proposed amendments to the Instrument, which by removing sections 4 and 6, would stop the program from being compulsory. Senator Pat Dodson tabled a motion to amend the Instrument which will be voted on in the Senate on Wednesday 11 August.
This is the outcome of public inquiry that was triggered by the parliamentary process that allows for certain instruments that accompany Social Security Act 1991 to be disallowed. The Instrument in this case was the Social Security (Parenting payment participation requirements – class of persons) Instrument 2021, which had the effect of expanding compulsory participation in ParentsNext further across Australia.