The federal Government’s “Welfare to Work” policy designed to move people off single parent payments and into employment is not achieving its aims according to new research. Source: Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand launched its latest research “Outside systems control my life: The experience of single mothers on Welfare to Work” last week.
The research examines the experience of 26 single mothers subject to the provisions of the Welfare to Work policy, first introduced in 2005, and puts a human face to this reform.
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand chief Stella Avramopolous said the Welfare to Work policy had increased people’s obligations in order to receive income support.
“Policy changes were framed as a way to raise employment participation, self-reliance and financial security with little regard for the challenges that families, especially single-parent families, face.”
The research shows the policy is, in most cases, increasing women’s financial insecurity.
“None of the women in our study were assisted with finding work, except one person who took on a short-term, part-time role,” Ms Avramopoulos said.
“Jobactive providers were unable to link women with employment that matched their experience and skills or support their long-term career goals and aspirations.
“Nearly all participants reported having their payments cut due to negligence or poor communication between their jobactive provider and Centrelink, or due to inconsistent policy interpretation. Amanda, a single mother of two, said, ‘I’m always on the brink of being cut off because they keep changing their minds about whether I’m meeting my obligations or not’.”
Ms Avramopoulos said Welfare to Work is situated within a suite of other policies that negatively impact on women.
“This includes the difficulties women face in accessing child support payments, their low superannuation balances, the gender pay gap and workplace norms that, for career-oriented positions, expect long hours.”
Ms Avramopoulos spoke at the public hearing of the Senate’s jobactive employment services inquiry on November 1. She argued that single mothers are being forced into making decisions that often work against the financial security and wellbeing of their households.
Photo: (L-R) Dr Annie Pettitt, General Manager Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships; Stella Avramopoulos, CEO Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand; and Susan Maury, report and submission co-author at the Senate’s jobactive employment services inquiry.
Welfare to Work is failing single mothers (Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand)