Centrelink’s ParentsNext changes – what single mums need to know

Single mother and son

Everything you need to know about the Albanese Government’s abolishing of ParentsNext, and the pausing of mutual obligations and participation requirements.

Single mother holding toddler
ParentsNext is being cut and you may have a lot of questions

For many Australian single mums who are participants of ParentsNext, the Centrelink scheme is a constant threat to their financial stability. One missed appointment or attendance could result in the immediate suspension of their Centrelink payments.

For others, ParentsNext has helpful back to work training, child care subsidies and other support benefits.

Whichever way you see it, the Government has just announced that they are abolishing the ParentsNext program and suspending all compulsory mutual obligations.

We’ve put together a list of answers to some of the big single mum questions regarding the axing of ParentsNext.

When does Parents Next end?

The Albanese government has announced that ParentsNext will be cancelled entirely from 1 July 2024.

When do ParentsNext compulsory requirements end?

From the 5 of May 2023, all Parents Next compulsory requirements are paused. You will no longer lose your Centrelink benefits for not attending interviews or taking part in any Parent Next activities.

All ParentsNext compulsory participation has ceased and has been officially paused.

You can read our complete guide to Australian single mother Centrelink benefits and payments here.

Do Jobseeker compulsory requirements end too?

No. All other Centrelink compulsory requirements other than ParentsNext continue as normal.

I’m on ParentsNext – what do I need to do?

Centrelink JobSeeker Newstart 2021 raise - source: singlemum.com.au

You may still be invited to join ParentsNext if appropriate.

You can commence or continue to be in the program if you choose to and take part in any current activities and receiving current supports.

Parents participating in ParentsNext will still receive help to plan and prepare for employment, including financial assistance to undertake education or training. The Albanese Government encourages single mums to continue to access ParentNext supports on a voluntary basis.

However any of your compulsory participation requirements have now been “paused”.

Any of the activities or tasks you were placed in as a Parents Next customer are now no longer required if you don’t wish to take part. This includes attending compulsory provider appointments.

You will no longer be required to attend any activities that were set by your provider or agree to any previously compulsory Participation Plan.

You are no longer being threatened with your Centrelink payments being cancelled or stopped because you didn’t satisfy your ParentsNext requirements.

What single mums still need to tell Centrelink

Single mother and son
Don’t forget you still have some Centrelink commitments.

Do I need to Report to Centrelink?

Yes. You still need to report any income or earnings you receive to Centrelink.

Do I need to tell Centrelink if I have a partner?

Yes. If you haven’t already done so, all Centrelink Single Parent Payment recipients are required to disclose if they are no longer single as it may affect your payments.

You need to let Centrelink know if your circumstances change, such as if you enter into a new romantic relationship, have a new partner or move in with a boyfriend.

If you are receiving Single Parenting Payment (or Jobseeker, or other Centrelink benefits) the amount you receive may be affected by your new relationship.

You can read about what kind of relationships may affect your Centrelink payment here.

Are there changes to Community Development Programs?

The government has also announced that many of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia’s Community Development Programs mutual obligation or participation requirements have also been paused.

Check if your CDP program has been affected on the Centrelink website here.

What is ParentsNext?

Single mother and toddler child
Single mothers receiving the Single Parenting Payment may be put on ParentsNext

ParentsNext was a compulsory program introduced by the Coalition government in 2018. It was officially described as “helping” parents of children aged under six prepare for future work and employment. It aimed at creating a pathway for single mothers to get off welfare and back into the workforce via study or work goals.

Whist this sounds like a supportive program, participation for many was not a choice, with “customers” of the scheme actually being termed as “compulsory participants”.

What the ParentsNext scheme actually did was threaten, and indeed in many cases remove the Centrelink benefits of single mums who didn’t comply with the program. If they missed an appointment, activity or training their payments could be suspended indefinitely.

ParentsNext threatened disadvantaged Australian single mums with removing their Centrelink payments

ParentsNext was seen by many Aussie low-income mums as yet another government hoop to jump through, which actually added further to the stress of being newly divorced, separated or single woman with dependent children.

Single mothers who were already struggling, searching to find a new place to live after leaving an (often abusive) relationship, trying to survive with the majority care of their children whilst on low welfare payments and all the other added stresses of bringing up young children alone had even more onerous responsibilities heaped upon them by the ParentsNext scheme. If mothers didn’t meet their compulsory requirements, they faced imminent homelessness, starvation and poverty.

Can I volunteer to be in ParentsNext?

Yes. You can volunteer to be in ParentNext if you have a child under six years of age, are receiving Centrelink Parenting Payment and you don’t live in a Community Development Program or live in Norfolk Island. Contact Centrelink for more information.

Will there be a new ParentsNext program?

The government has indicated that yes, there will be a replacement work support program, but it will be a voluntary scheme that doesn’t threaten to take away Centrelink payments if you participate. We can only wait and see what that looks like after the approaching Budget announcements – watch this space!

By Single Mum Australia Staff

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