This is a joint submission made on behalf of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (NFVPLS) Forum, SNAICC – National Voice for our Children (SNAICC) and the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC).
This joint submission focuses on the:
(a) discriminatory design and implementation of ParentsNext and its unfair targeting of single mothers, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women;
(b) inappropriateness of applying the Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) – a system of financial punishments – to ParentsNext and the discriminatory impact of the TCF.
- The ParentsNext program is not a reasonable or proportionate restriction on rights because it is coupled with the TCF, an unfair system of financial punishments, which has left struggling parents without money for food, and will disproportionately impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and fails to address structural barriers to the paid workforce, in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
- The ParentsNext program has been subject to one evaluation – the ParentsNext Evaluation Report – which fails to offer a robust assessment of the efficacy of the ParentsNext program.
- ParentsNext is another social security measure targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and represents a missed opportunity for the Federal Government to work in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to address the structural barriers encountered by women with children trying to (re-)enter the workforce.
- It is recommended that the Government work in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to create sustainable Aboriginal-led programs and institutions that promote self-determination.
- The ParentsNext program should end for many reasons listed in this report, one of them being because the “intensive stream” is targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, with the justification being that they “have lower employment rates than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and non-Indigenous people”
A response is needed that recognises different ways of parenting and values unpaid care work as labour and as a significant contribution to the nation’s prosperity. The Federal Government should work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to self-identify ways to value good parenting, address barriers to employment and create solutions tailored to meet their needs