Expert Opinion Panel
Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist
The news Centrelink didn’t tell single parents – until now
By Jason Bryce | 16 May 2017
The government announced last week that new single mums will need to be verified single to collect Centrelink payments. Now Singlemum.com.au has discovered something else…
Every existing single parent will be reviewed by Centrelink
The government announced last week that new single mums will need to be verified single to collect Centrelink payments. Now Singlemum.com.au has discovered something else – every existing single parent will be reviewed by Centrelink in 2018.
Many single mums know that verification for Parenting Payment Single is nothing new. But the government nevertheless made a major announcement that new claimants will need to be verified as separated to collect single rate payments.
The government loudly proclaimed this new requirement as part of the budget last week and gained plenty of mostly positive media coverage.
What the government didn’t say in the media release is that all existing recipients of the Centrelink Parenting Payment Single will be reviewed and also have to supply written verification of their single status.
Singlemum.com.au has obtained confirmation from the Department of Human Services of this unprecedented examination of existing Centrelink recipients. And an explanation of exactly how the new verification system will work.
A spokesperson for the Department of Human Services said “The stronger relationship verification measure is a change of process.”
“The current process involves two referees being contacted by phone,” said the DHS Spokesperson.
“This will be replaced by a more formal written process.”
Now, new claimants of Parenting Payment (Single) who identify as separated (including those transferring from Parenting Payment Partnered) are required to provide the contact details of two referees. These people will possibly be contacted by phone and asked to confirm they know the claimant and know the claimant to be single.
Under the new measure, one referee is required to fill out and sign a new form that verifies the claimant’s relationship status. Referees face up to 12 months in prison for providing false information.
“From 1 January 2018, this new process will be used to stage reviews of existing recipients of Parenting Payment (Single) and Newstart,” the departmental spokesperson told Singlemum.com.au yesterday.
“From 20 September 2018, this new process will apply to new claimants of Parenting Payment (Single) and Newstart.”
So from January first, all single mums now collecting parenting payment will be asked to provide a referee to sign a written legally binding statement. That wasn’t announced loudly on budget day to widespread applause from the mainstream media.
“I was not aware that all single mothers are about to be reviewed and asked for verification,” said Terese Edwards, CEO of the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children.
“Verification implies that women can’t be trusted or are not capable of providing clear, truthful information,” said Terese.
“It sets up an air of distrust. There is no respect.”
And Terese foresees other problems
“What if there is a breakdown in the relationship with one of the referees? They could call up Centrelink, anonymously if they like, and question the single status of the recipient.”
What you might not know, until now, is that you may well be about to be reviewed as well. You may have to find someone you can trust to make a legally binding statement that you are still single.
Just because you have been receiving parenting Payment Single for years makes no difference. All single parents must be verified, again, or excluded from payments.
Business & Finance Journalist