The Federal Government’s 2023 budget states it will increase financial support for single parents by expanding eligibility for the Parenting Payment.
Single parents will be able to apply for the payment until their youngest child is 14, instead of the current cut-off of eight years of age.
The announcement partially reverses a policy put in place by the Howard and Gillard governments.
It will take effect from 20 September this year.
The Parenting Payment is a support payment for primary carers of young children. Single parents and parents in couples are both eligible, but single parents get a higher amount.
The payment is targeted at low-income parents. For example, a single parent with one child must earn below $202.60 a fortnight to get the full $67.80 per day.
There are some requirements to be eligible for the payment, such as studying or training, which the Government says is “so they can return to work when their children are older”.
History of support for single parents
Before 2006, parents with children aged up to 16 were eligible for the payment.
In 2006, the Howard Government lowered the cut-off age to eight for the children of single parents and six for the children of coupled parents. Parents who were already on the payment before 2006 were exempt. Unemployed parents with children above these ages instead had to apply for the unemployment payment (then called Newstart, now called JobSeeker).
In 2011, the Gillard Government extended the change to the pre-2006 parents, pushing thousands of additional single parents onto the unemployment payment.
The Government will increase the cut-off age for the children of single parents from eight to 14. The cut-off for the children of coupled parents will remain at six.
Single parents whose children are between eight and 14 and are currently on JobSeeker will get about $12 extra per day from the change. The Government estimates this will apply to about 57,000 people, 90% of them single mothers.
There is speculation the Government will also increase JobSeeker in tomorrow’s budget, but it’s unclear by how much and whether all JobSeeker recipients would benefit.