Parents' Necks: What Next?
Single parents who are the primary carers of their children are being moved onto Centrelink's new "Parents Next" scheme at the moment, as part of recent legislation that allows the government to add more pressure to unsupported single parents to move into the workforce despite tougher childcare costs, and despite the fact that these single parents still have preschool aged children. In the Hawkesbury, family-friendly employment opportunities across a variety of industries is in extremely short supply. The scheme is also enforcing tighter restrictions over what is deemed an "approved activity"; this list of approved activities now appears to exclude study, even at university level.
I experienced this firsthand over the past couple of months as the process had Centrelink completely disregarding the fact that I'm third year of a psychology degree, and it took until I was in the compulsory appointment with a job network provider for a customer service officer outside of the Centrelink system to assess my busy work and study life as "enough". Job network providers' approaches vary widely in how much they focus on the individual, and some of them are for-profit organisations; that is - they are paid to put people into jobs, whether or not that job really suits the individual in the longterm.
Had today's appointment with OCTEC Employment not gone so well for me, it's likely that I would have been forced to drop all but one of my uni classes and go to work in a short term, low-skills, minimum-wage job that doesn't even cover my childcare fees. And I'm not alone.
Is this sensible?
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If you're a Hawkesbury local on a Centrelink income, and wish to share your perspective too, why don't you get in touch? Contact me via the contact form in the menu above.