Ties that bind … single parents into poverty

Single parents are sending hand-made blue ties to the federal government, warning it not to make further cuts to welfare payments.

The ties are being sent by members of United Sole Parents of Australia.

They carry messages describing how difficult life has become for single parents since they were moved off parenting payments and put on to the Newstart allowance early last year, under controversial changes made by the former Labor government.

The ties are a reference to a speech made by former prime minister Julia Gillard, in which she said a government dominated by “men in blue ties’’ would mean hard-won financial gains for women would be rolled back.

Wyndham Vale mother of two and lobby group member Kerry Arch said single parents feared the government’s planned welfare system review would make it harder to care for their children.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has said welfare spending is unsustainable and that changes must be made to the disability pension and general unemployment benefit. Department of Human Services figures reveal that the federal electorate of Lalor, which includes Wyndham, has 4973 people who were receiving parenting payments until last year.

Mr Andrews said he would also consider changes to the rule that allows job seekers to turn down employment that is more than 90 minutes from their home.

Ms Arch said single parents living in Wyndham were concerned they would be forced to take jobs on the other side of the city.

Since being told last year that her job would be made redundant later this year, Ms Arch has been unable to find any payroll or administration jobs in the western suburbs.

“It is not practical for single parents to travel three hours each day. We can’t afford to be doing that. Single parents want jobs, but there aren’t any where we live.”

Werribee Support and Housing chief executive Carol Muir said it was important that parents had access to local work within school hours.

She said UnitingCare Australia was working with the government to ensure the review was in the best interests of its clients.