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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 6382

Senator RUSTON (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific) (16:04): Firstly, I'd like to thank those members and senators who've contributed to the constructive discussion on this instrument. ParentsNext is a pre-employment program that assists parents of young children to plan and prepare for employment by the time their children start school. The program supports parents of children aged under six who are in receipt of parenting payment, particularly those at risk of long-term welfare dependency. By expanding ParentsNext, the government is seeking to support more eligible parents with young children to plan and prepare for employment, to break the cycle of intergenerational welfare dependency, to increase female labour force participation and to help close the gap in Indigenous employment. As one of the participants said about the program: 'It's having someone in your corner. If you have 10 friends who are all stay-at-home mums who don't want to work, then it won't create a culture of desire for change.'

If we do not provide strong outcomes for disadvantaged parents, the cycle of welfare dependency will continue. Eighty per cent of young mothers on parenting payment had a parent or a guardian who was also on welfare during their upbringing. Providing tailored and flexible support to help parents increase confidence and wellbeing and achieve educational employment goals is a vital step in breaking that cycle. It's disappointing that the Greens would seek to disallow such an important instrument.