Sole parents fear a generation of children will be entrenched in poverty if the federal government doesn’t reverse cuts to single parent benefits.
Dozens of protesters gathered in cities across the country yesterday to rally against welfare changes, which moved 60,000 single parents on to the lower Newstart Allowance.
From January 1, single parents have received between $60 and $100-a-week less under entitlement changes.
Single Parent Action Group protest organiser Samantha Seymour says 730,000 children are living below the poverty line and the figure is set to rise.
‘‘Effects of poverty include obesity, depression, suicide, developmental delays, poor school outcomes,’’ Ms Seymour told a rally in Canberra.
Single mum Bianca Maciel Pizzorno said her twin boys, aged eight, had offered to empty their piggy banks to help pay the bills.
‘‘It’s hard to explain to an eight-year-old that $10 isn’t going to help,’’ she said.
At a rally at Martin Place in Sydney on Tuesday morning, Louise Plitz, 31, was one of about 50 protesters.
She said the payment changes were already affecting her and her 10-year-old son.
‘‘For example, after rent comes out this week, there will be $100 to live off for two weeks.’’.
‘‘By the time you put a full tank of petrol in, there’s not much left to cover bills.
‘‘It’s extremely stressful.’’
Feminist author Eva Cox, who also attended the Sydney rally, said the federal government’s reasoning that the parenting cuts would become an incentive for more people to get into the workforce was ‘‘just plain stupid’’.
‘‘For a sole parent, a child’s needs come first otherwise they’re bad parents, so this idea that people can do full-time or near full-time work is ridiculous.’’
The federal government has said the cuts, worth around $728million in savings over four years, are needed to achieve a budget surplus in 2012/13.
NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann told the Sydney rally the government was ‘‘looking at the wrong end of town to find savings’’.
Organisations such as the Benevolent Society and Australians for Affordable Housing (AAH) also supported the national protest.
‘‘It beggars belief that we can be having a national conversation about the inadequacy of Newstart, with politicians lining up to say that it is too low to live on, whilst at the same time we are forcing already vulnerable and disadvantaged families on to that very same payment,’’ said Joel Pringle, campaign manager for AAH.