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Support for single parents, not cruel cuts, must be the Government’s priority

The Australian Greens have called on the Federal Government to prioritise assistance for single parents ahead of cruel cuts in the upcoming Federal Budget.

Speaking at the launch of the documentary ‘[10] Stories of Single Mothers' in Parliament House today, Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said that single parents should be returned to parenting payments, rather than being dumped onto Newstart when their youngest child turns eight.

"Single parents face huge challenges raising a family, studying, looking for work or working part time, Newstart's inadequacy makes this near impossible," Senator Siewert said today.

"Data from Senate Estimates shows us that 95% of single parenting payment recipients are women, and they're struggling to meet essential living costs. Around 85 per cent of single parents on the Newstart Allowance typically have 5-10 instances of multiple deprivation, that is, they do not have access to items that are considered vital for an adequate standard of living, be it medical treatment, warm clothes, a decent and secure home, and school books for children.

"I am deeply concerned that the challenges faced by single parents will be compounded by proposed Government cuts, like the axing of the school kids bonus and income support bonus.

"The welfare to work reforms of the Howard Government, along with Labor's cuts to parenting payments dumped single parents onto Newstart and put them at significantly increased risk of poverty. This policy needs to be reversed, so single parents are not forced to raise their family on Newstart.

"The Greens are committed to helping people trapped in poverty, and to begin this process, we have a Bill before the Senate to increase the base rate of Newstart by $50 per week and ensure the payment is properly indexed to reflect the increasing cost of living.

"Helping single parents and lifting Newstart are two important steps towards reducing poverty across our community," Senator Siewert concluded.

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