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Federal Election 2010 -

A Single Mother's Guide

Bara B | August 20, 2010


Article from SingleMum.com.au

It's Federal Election time, and there are just so many issues that need to be addressed for single mums. The big question is - which party is going to improve the lot of single mothers?

The Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC), those tireless fighters for single mothers interests, have solved the puzzle by sending a questionnaire to each of the major political parties - Labor, Coalition (Liberal,Nationals) and the Greens.

The last response has arrived just in time for the Federal Election and SingleMum has put together a brief summary of the answers. All answers will reflect the EXACT QUESTION only in order to get this article to you in time. Any political hedging around the issues will be ignored. To read each party's policies in detail, please see the links at the end of the article.

Hopefully, this summary will make it easier for single mothers to see which political parties are going to actively address single-mother-specific problems, and so understand who they should consider voting for for real changes to occur.

Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC)
Federal Election Policy Positions Questionnaire

1. Poverty

a. What plans does your party have to increase income support payments (Newstart Allowance and Parenting Payment Single) to the same amount as other pensions and when will these plans be implemented?

  • Coalition Party Response - NONE
  • Labor Party Response - NONE
  • Greens Party Response - YES - will support or implement increases as soon as possible

b. Single mothers already have a high level of participation in the labour market, but to ensure the care of their children need secure, part-time, family friendly jobs during school hours. What strategies will your party implement to ensure the increase in supply of these jobs?

  • Coalition Party Response - NONE - References to past policies only
  • Labor Party Response - NONE - References to past policies only
  • Greens Party Response - NONE - References to past policies only

2. Child Support

a. How will your party ensure that Child support payments are collected on time and in full?

  • Coalition Party Response - NO References to past policies only
  • Labor Party Response - YES - covert optical surveillance would permanently form part of the Child Support Agency's toolkit for investigating serious cases of child support non compliance and fraud
  • Greens Party Response - YES - the CSA bears the risk of non-compliance by paying support up front and pursuing collection
    - More resources to pursue fraud

b. Child Support payments are often reduced as a result of the minimisation of taxable income. What policies will your party implement (and when) to ensure that Child Support payments are based on the true financial position of payer parents, and an accurate assessment of the level of care provided?

  • Coalition Party Response - NO References to past policies only
  • Labor Party Response - YES - A new, more accurate, default income arrangement will be introduced that uses a parent's previous taxable income instead of a lower default income in cases where they have not lodged a tax return
  • Greens Party Response - YES - More resources to pursue fraud
    - Stricter provisions for those failing to declare income or put in a tax return
    - Monitoring of the actual level of care provided against that claimed

3. Family Law

a. Despite legislative provisions, serious concern remains regarding the ability of the system to ensure the safety of women throughout family law proceedings. What measures will your party take to guarantee women's safety?

  • Coalition Party Response - NONE - Introduced and will uphold the Shared Parenting Act
  • Labor Party Response - YES - currently considering legislative amendments to improve the family law system's handling of violence cases, whilst maintaining Federal Labor's commitment to the concept of shared parental responsibility and shared care where it is safe and appropriate
  • Greens Party Response - YES - develop stronger and more robust measures to guarantee women's safety

b. What changes will your party be making to the Family Law legislation to guarantee a child's best interests, ensuring their right to safety and stability are paramount to all cases? How will you ensure that the work of all family law practitioners and professionals prioritises the safety and stability of children?

  • Coalition Party Response - NONE - Introduced and will uphold the Shared Parenting Act
  • Labor Party Response - YES - committed to further improve the family law system so that separated families can access the help they need to sort out their parenting arrangements, and in the best interests of the child
  • Greens Party Response - YES - reversing the changes made to Family Law by the Howard Government and ensuring that the clear incontrovertible obligation in the Act is to guarantee the actual best interests of children

4. Affordable Housing

a. How does your party plan to increase the availability of affordable, secure housing for single mother families?

  • Coalition Party Response - MAYBE - ensure appropriate rate of land release from state governments for housing
  • Labor Party Response - YES - 80,000 more affordable rental homes across Australia particularly for low and moderate income earners
    - Funding to build over 21,000 new social housing homes
    - Helped to repair more than 70,000 existing dwellings - 10,000 of which would have become unfit for use as housing had repairs not occurred
  • Greens Party Response - YES - urge the government to supply more affordable rental properties that are appropriate for single parent families
    - the only political party that are seeking to ensure that all social housing is energy efficient and located close to public transport, employment and social services

5. Social Inclusion

a. What does your party intend to do to ensure that the one in five families headed by a single parent feel like valued, respected members of Australian society?

  • Coalition Party Response - NO - not addressed
  • Labor Party Response - NO - not addressed
  • Greens Party Response - MAYBE - intentions addressed, but no firm policy

b. What plans does your party have to remove compulsory Income Management?

  • Coalition Party Response - NO - Supports current model of Income Management policy
  • Labor Party Response - NO - Implemented current Income Management policy
  • Greens Party Response - YES - The Greens are the only party who opposed the introduction of national income management laws

Remember, your vote in this Federal Election is VERY IMPORTANT - single mothers can make a significant impact on the Federal Elections towards improving the conditions of single mothers and their children everywhere in Australia

Source documents:

Original CSMC Questionnaire [PDF]
Coalition Response [PDF]
Labor Response [PDF]
Greens Response [PDF]


Go to the Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) website

Would you like to comment on this article? Go to the SingleMum In The News Forum




What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the

kids

are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.

Centrelink

plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a

divorce

or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

Please remember the bigger font words,because we will use it often in our website.