In the 2017 budget, which aimed to “crackdown on welfare cheats”, the government announced from September 2018 single parents receiving welfare will need a third party to verify they are in fact single.
CEOs from Council of Single Mothers and their Children Victoria (CSMCV) and the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (NCSMC) have condemned the move, calling it disrespectful, humiliating and archaic.
“It harps back to the 1970s when single mums used to be in fear of people coming into their homes to check the closets for men’s clothes,” CSMCV CEO Jenny Davidson said.
Terese Edwards, CEO of NCSMC, said Australia was slipping back to a “shame culture” where single mothers are operating under a cloud of suspicion, reminiscent of the 1970s.
Edwards and Davidson said the third party verification system was fraught with problems, from hostile third parties “dobbing in” single mothers, social surveillance that breached the privacy of a single mother and her children, to unfounded assumptions that a new partner would take on the financial responsibilities of a woman’s children.
Edwards and Davidson said the third party verification was the latest in a string of attacks on single mums, one of the most devastating, was the stringent rules Newstart dictated once the youngest offspring turned eight.
But one of the most concerning reports, Edwards said, was that due to severe financial insecurity, 22 per cent of women in abusive relationships had returned to the relationship for some financial reprieve.
“It fails to recognise the unwaged labour that goes into running a home and keeping a family,” Edwards said.
Davidson said instead of vilifying single mums the government should focus on collecting child support payments.