AS a single mother struggling to make ends meet for almost a decade, Beccy Walker, of Cook, is used to saying “no.”
“When my two boys have school excursions, or if they want to play a sport outside of school, I just can’t afford it,” she says.
“It’s humiliating telling a school your kids can’t go to an excursion because you don’t have the money.”
Now with Federal Government cuts to parenting payments, the 42-year-old believes single parents like her will be plunged even deeper into poverty.
Under the entitlement changes, most single parents have been shifted onto the Newstart unemployment allowance when their youngest child turns eight, receiving between $60 to $100 a week less.
“I worked it out and with the cuts, I will be living off $125 a fortnight for food, bills, petrol, school fees and incidentals – even a single person without kids can’t live off that,” says Beccy, who has two sons aged 10 and 12.
On February 5 she will protest with hundreds of other single parents on the lawns at Parliament House, to push for the Government to reverse its decision.
Run by the single parents action group, rallies will be held in all major cities across the nation.
“Everyone hopes they can make a difference, because there is a lot of anger there, a lot of sadness,” Beccy says.
“I do find it rich that a Prime Minister, who has never had kids and couldn’t know the cost of kids, is making these changes.”
Beccy says she was originally employed as a cleaner when her children were younger but had to quit “when it became too expensive to put them in daycare”.
Now she is working casually in a school canteen, but isn’t sure if she has a job to go back to.
“A lot of people say ‘well why can’t these single parents just find a proper job,” she says.
“I say, try finding 100,000 jobs for these single parents, in school hours, with a decent wage that you can live on.
“Employers aren’t the most family friendly, as soon as they find out you’re a single parent, they don’t want to know you, they’re not interested. It makes it hard because if your kids are sick, you’re the one that has to take time off work, you can’t share it with your partner… you need an employer who’s happy for you to have the time off.”
Beccy says people can often forget single-parent families are families, too.
“We didn’t choose to be single parents, sometimes families break down and it’s not our fault or the children’s, but we’re getting persecuted for that,” she says.
“I think the Government should be doing more to support single parents and getting their kids back on track. We’re turning into a have or have not society and it’s heartbreaking to constantly tell my kids they can’t do things other kids can.”