Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand has published the report, “Outside systems control my life”: The experience of single mothers on Welfare to Work, exploring the gendered effects of the Welfare to Work policy. It concludes that the policy is failing to help single mothers find employment, increasing their financial insecurity, and eroding their attempts to find work and become self-reliant.

Welfare to Work

The Welfare to Work policy reforms were introduced in 2006, to foster employment participation and self-reliance of people otherwise dependent on social security payments. The reforms increased the range and number of people required to look for and accept work and expanded the support and assistance provided to these typically disadvantaged jobseekers. In particular, the reforms targeted principal carer parents, people with disabilities, mature age job seekers and the very long-term unemployed.

The policy is a form of activity-tested conditional welfare based on the principle of ‘mutual obligations’, with recipients having to complete activities in order to access income support, and is implemented by independent contractors.

Summary of key findings

  • The Welfare to Work policy was designed to help single mothers achieve financial security through self-reliance and economic participation, but it does not address the fact that women are already participating in the necessary unpaid work of care.
  • The policy does not consider the barriers that single mothers face in obtaining employment, such as lack of child care and the availability of quality part-time roles.
  • Implementation of the policy has resulted in negative experiences for many women from Job Network Providers in the form of inconsistent interpretations of the policy and in some cases aggressive behaviour.
  • The policy has in many cases interfered with women’s intrinsic motivation to find employment and achieve long-term financial security through tertiary education or entrepreneurial activity.

(Source: Good Shepherd | Read the report | Parliamentary Library)


From the blog: Topics – Lone parent

Personal Income Tax Cuts and the New Child Care Subsidy: Do They Address High Effective Marginal Tax Rates on Women’s Work? – Part 1, by Miranda Stewart

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