Single Parent Families Locked In Poverty

ProBono reports Australia’s welfare system locks single parent families into poverty.

It comes as no surprise that researchers into child poverty within Australia have correctly forecast or social security net is failing to keep vulnerable families out of poverty, with the weight or child poverty felt most deeply among single parent families following the end of the governments’ coronavirus supplement.

ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods revealed in their report that the supplement (which effectively doubled unemployment payments last March), had reduced the proportion of single parent families living below the poverty line from 39 per cent to 17 per cent.

With the end of supplement payments ANU modelling predicted that the child poverty rates for single parent families would in fact rise above pre-pandemic levels reach 41 per cent. The report was commissioned by Social Ventures Australia and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence. Both organisations have called upon Government to increase income support levels to ensure children are not living in poverty in Australia.

Both these organisations are also calling for an independent review into the structure and rates of social security payments to ensure children are not exposed to the long-term harmful impacts of poverty and financial stress.

Emma Sydenham, Director of early childhood at Social Ventures Australia told Pro Bono News that their commissioned report was a stark reminder of the invisible discrimination that affected single parent families in Australia.

“I didn’t really think that single parent families would experience such discrimination. But this report really highlights that being a single parent today in Australia really does create a risk of consigning you to a life of poverty,” Sydenham said.
Sydenham said childhood poverty caused major social and economic harm, including increased costs in justice, health and welfare.

She noted 2019 research that found Australia spends $15.2 billion every year because children and young people experience serious issues requiring crisis services.

“We spend [billions of dollars] on late intervention for children, so that’s on mental health costs, child protection costs, costs that really would be unnecessary if we invested early to support families and children to be able to thrive,” she said.
“And we all miss out when people don’t have the opportunity to lead fulfilling, engaging and productive lives.
“You can’t talk about early childhood development and strong outcomes for kids in Australia without talking about our income support system.”

Lead Source: Luke Michael | 26 April 2021 ProBono

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