Media Release: ParentsNext – Cruel and in breach of human rights

25 November 2022
ParentsNext: Cruel, ineffective and a breach of human rights Australia’s largest alliance of women’s organisations, the Equality Rights Alliance (ERA), has made a submission to the House of Representatives Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services, calling for the ParentsNext program to become opt-in only. “ParentsNext is currently compulsory for many Parenting Payment recipients who have a child aged between 9 months and 6 years, even if you don’t get any benefit from it at all,” said Helen Dalley-Fisher, ERA’s Convenor. “ParentsNext requires parents to agree to a participation plan, turn up to meetings and take part in ‘activities’ designed to get people back into the workforce. The problem is the participants are already working – they’re parenting.” ERA’s recent submission to the Senate Select Committee on Work and Care and its intervention at the Jobs and Skills Summit in September both called for a greater recognition of the invisible unpaid work done by women who are parenting or caring for elderly or disabled relatives. “ParentsNext and the Jobs and Skills Summit have a similar problem. They’re both ignorant about the amount and type of work women do.” “At the Summit, women were described as an ‘untapped resource’, but most women feel like they’re working more than full time.” “Programs like ParentsNext make the problem worse, by taking away your parenting payment if you don’t comply with onerous conditions, even if your non-compliance has happened because you’re working flat out to parent your kids,” said Ms Dalley-Fisher. “Taking someone’s only income away because they don’t have time to jump through hoops is cruel and counterproductive. No one benefits from this.” ERA is also concerned that making Parenting Payments contingent on meeting compliance obligations is a breach of the human right to social security. “The right to social security is set out in article 9 of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Australia is a signatory. Article 9 states that social security is a right, not an optional endowment. That right can only be made conditional on a person doing something if there is an adequate justification for the limitation.” “Under international law, Australia is required to prove that the requirement to attend meetings or complete prescribed activities is justified, but Australia has never done that. There is no clear, evidence-based objective for ParentsNext and no evidence that it helps women into employment.” “It’s therefore clear that ParentsNext is in breach of the right to social security.” “We congratulate the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Tony Burke MP, on the decision to review ParentsNext.” “We’re hoping this review will lead to real change to the program and a greater recognition that social security in Australia is a human right that should only be limited where there is a clear benefit to doing so,” said Ms Dalley-Fisher. ENDS For more information and interviews, please contact Helen Dalley-Fisher on 0413 065 822.   Download PDF