Our CEO, Paul Linossier, has today written to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee making clear that changes are needed to the ParentsNext program, and in particular the Targeted Compliance Framework. In our view the program as currently operating hurts the people it is designed to support and makes them even more vulnerable.
ParentsNext is a federal government program that is designed to assist parents to move into employment by their time their children go to school.
Paul was responding to the Senate Committee’s Inquiry into the program and a call for submissions from interested individuals and organisations. In his letter, he highlighted some of the ways we have seen people affected by ParentsNext. Suspending payments cannot be the answer to improving the lives of people who are already struggling. We have seen cases where a parent has not been able to afford to top up her mobile phone. This meant she couldn’t contact us to report on the required date and therefore her payments were suspended.
We have asked the Senate to consider three points:
- allow ParentsNext providers more discretion regarding payment suspension, so they can take individual circumstances into account
- delay entry into ParentsNext until a child is 12 months old, giving parents the time to get over the demands of early parenthood
- set up a mechanism for involvement and consultation of parents taking part in the program, so they can provide feedback on elements such as the self-reporting system.
The Senate Committee is due to report on 31 March.