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Government light on detail over emergency relief for single parents

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29 October 2012 - Media Release

Government light on detail over emergency relief for single parents

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson for Families and Community Services, says the Government appears unprepared and indifferent to an anticipated spike in demand for emergency relief as a result of payment cuts that will begin to effect up to 150,000 single parents from 1 January 2013.

“Two weeks ago, I asked the Government during question time what arrangements would be made to assist organisations providing emergency relief to those families who lose $60 to $100 per week as a result of being moved from parenting payment to Newstart.” Senator Siewert said today.

“Their responses, both in the Senate and through a letter tabled today from Community Services Minister Julie Collins, have done nothing to address the concerns held by the Australian Greens and the community sector about the impact of these changes.

“The Minister has provided a noticeably light response to my enquiry- making no mention of what, if anything, will be done to monitor demand for emergency relief from January, and whether capacity exists to provide additional support.

“It is very disappointing to see such a lack of detail from a Minister in this very important area.

“Single parents will begin to move to Newstart in Janurary- straight after Christmas, in the middle of the summer holidays and just weeks before kids return to school. This is a time of year when running a household on a limited budget can be very hard and there's a real chance that families already doing it tough will struggle and need to access emergency assistance.

“Just last week, the new Community Index showed that 80% of organisations are concerned about their capacity to meet demand in the next six months.

“We know that there are already significant numbers of single parent families accessing emergency support and it is more than reasonable to expect these numbers will escalate when more single parents are forced onto Newstart and suffer a large drop in income.

“The Government should reconsider this legislation immediately, or at least examine the possibility of delaying the start date for this legislation, to give families and community organisations more time to prepare,” Senator Siewert concluded.

Media Enquiries - Chris Redman on 0418 410 180