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Major parties lack policies to help single parents

Dr Kay Cook claims that Coalition policies did not mention single parents.
Dr Kay Cook claims that Coalition policies did not mention single parents. Chris Ison

NO MAJOR political party has a plan to help lone parents on "unreliable and often not received" incomes, a senior research fellow at RMIT University has claimed.

In a major report on policies being offered to Australia's poorest, Dr Kay Cook's analysis of children and family policy forms a key part.

Conducted by Academics Stand Against Poverty; Dr Cook's analysis finds that neither Labor nor Liberal parties had offered anything new in the 2013 race to the polls.

Dr Cook's analysis has found a series of recent changes to income support for lone parents and changes to Newstart payments "ignores the reality" of key issues facing the 85% of single parents who are female.

She wrote that while the current Labor Party policy, under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, had flagged the chance of a return to parenting payments, "no other relevant policies are put forward".

Similarly, Dr Cook wrote that the Coalition policies did not mention single parents, and the conservative parties "fail to address the concerns of impoverished lone parent families".

"No major party has a plan to address the fundamental problems with the Child Support Scheme that make a proportion of lone parents' incomes unreliable and often not received," Dr Cook wrote.

"As 1.5 million parents and 1.1 million children are engaged with the child support system, this remains an invisible yet important policy issue."

Co-founder of the ASAP Australian arm, University of Sydney's Associate Professor Danielle Celermajer, said the current policies of the major parties could condemn entire groups to sustained poverty.

She said the issue of poverty was "not that sexy", and despite the continued emphasis on the economy, poverty remained only "a minor note in the overall songbook of campaigning".

Topics:  federal election 2013, poverty, single parenting


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