Thursday, 30 Nov 2023

Labor to scrap Coalitions punitive ParentsNext scheme from next year

Labor to scrap Coalitions punitive ParentsNext scheme from next year


Labor to scrap Coalitions punitive ParentsNext scheme from next year

The Albanese government will scrap the controversial ParentsNext program from next year and stop compulsory obligations for participants immediately in a significant win for campaigners.

The decision comes after years of protest from advocates about the pre-employment program, which saw about 100,000 people on parenting payments drawn into the mutual obligations system.

Under the scheme introduced by the Coalition in 2018, parenting payment recipients were sent to a privatised job agency that provided career advice, linked individuals to courses and training and required them to complete education or parenting activities to keep their welfare payments.

Guardian Australia first revealed concerns about the program in 2018, detailing how some single mothers were made to take their children to story time sessions at the local library or playgroup under threat of having their Centrelink payments stopped.

The program was continually criticised by groups including Single Mothers Australia (formerly National Council for Single Mothers and their Children) and a former program participant, Ella Buckland, who launched a support group for parents in the program.

It also faced criticism from the Australian Human Rights Commission and more recently the government's Women's Equality Taskforce and the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, which both said it should be scrapped. In March, a parliamentary committee chaired by the Labor MP Julian Hill also recommended the scheme be wound up and immediate action be taken to blunt its harshest aspects.

ParentsNext, which was most tipped to cost $484m across the forward estimates, was reformed several times with some changes easing the burden on participants, but Labor has concluded it remains too punitive.

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