Has Australia Violated Single Mother’s Human Rights?

Has Australia Violated Single Mother’s Human Rights?

Mums taken off single parenting payment, moved onto Newstart

By Terese Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of the National Council Single Mothers and their Children | 15 August 2018


Has Australia Violated Single Mother's Human Rights - stock photo source: Bigstock.com

…it has violated its international human rights obligations by denying women who are sole parents’

access to a parenting payment once their youngest child turns eight years…

Terese Edwards from the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Terese Edwards, NCSMC

The National Council of Single Mothers and their children Inc (NCSMC) wrote a complaint to the United Nations, lodged September 2017. The UN informed NCSMC that they had ‘registered the complaint and writing to the State’. NCSMC wants the UN to hold the Australian government accountable and to find that it has violated its international human rights obligations by denying women who are sole parents’ access to a parenting payment once their youngest child turns eight years.

…stop using single mother families as their ‘cost saving’ measure

Furthermore, NCSMC requested that the United Nations fully investigate the matter, urge the Australian Government to develop antipoverty strategies and for the Government to stop using single mother families as their ‘cost saving’ measure.

The organisation joined forces with a single mother from Melbourne to commence international action after NCSMC had exhausted all domestic avenues. It is the first individual complaint, using the optional protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

NCSMC is in unchartered waters but are determined to use every available mechanism. NCSMC explored the prospect of a ‘class action’ against the Australian government but legal advice received stated that it was not possible as Australia does not have a Bill of Rights

Has Australia Violated Single Mother's Human Rights - stock photo source: Bigstock.com
Single mothers are under more financial strain than ever

…systemic harm that this policy has inflicted upon low income sole parent families

The communication to the UN is a 20-page referenced overview of the individual and systemic harm that this policy has inflicted upon low income sole parent families, mostly headed up by a woman. Not surprising as poverty often has a woman’s face.

It’s a timely complaint as the UN Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women was undertaking its four-year review in Geneva last month. This is an international treaty body responsible for monitoring countries’ compliance with international human rights standards under the Convention. In signing the treaty, Australia committed to taking all steps required to eliminate discrimination against women and to a review its actions every 4 years by the Committee; a panel of experts on women’s rights.

Has Australia Violated Single Mother's Human Rights - stock photo source: Bigstock.com
One recommendation is to restore access to Child Care Subsidies for women who are not employed

The Committee release an advance copy and made a raft of recommendations including

(a) Take immediate measures to mitigate the effects of recent budget cuts to social, health, education and justice budgets, undertake a gender-analysis of these cuts and implement gender-responsive budgeting in the allocation of public resources;

(d) Adopt targeted measures and programmes to economically empower single mothers, including measures allowing them to complete higher education, and restore access to Child Care Subsidies for women who are not employed.

Cassandra Goldie Twitter Tweet
Cassandra Goldie Twitter account Tweet

NCSMS is not under any illusion. Gaining the attention and endorsement from the international community will not be enough to restore the parenting payment single, but every progressive step is worthy, and effort must be made. This is unfished business.

Terese Edwards


National Council of Single Mothers and their Children

go to the Single Mum Facebook Support Group - stock photo source: Canva.com


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