Friday, May 13, 2005

2005 Budget Ramifications on Single Parent Homeschooling Families

How will the new federal budget will affect home-schoolers receiving Parenting Payment?

From the news reports it looks that when the youngest child in the family turns 6 the parent is obligated to seek a minimum 15 hours work a week. Without looking into it more deeply I think I could safely say this will only affect families who are receiving government assistance such as single parenting payment. If this is the case, then yes, we have something to worry about as home educators and it would be wise is we all began to lobby our politicians to plead our special case.

For some years now it seems to have been a policy of Centrelink to encourage parents who are in receipt of financial assistance from the government to seek work once their youngest reaches high school age. In one case last year a South Australian mother, whose partner is on unemployment benefits, was called into an interview and was quite apprehensive. The emphasis on the interview, however, was on the client's long term future plans for gradually moving back into the world of work - looking at education rather than getting a job right now.

I know of several single parent families dependent on Centrelink benefits for the bulk of their income (with many already employed part time) who are very worried about the ramifications of the Federal Government's 2005 bugdet.

Here is a letter Debbie Dunn published in the last Homeschool Australia newsletter. I agree with Debbie that it's important we start to do something about this now.

Hi Everyone,
I am concerned that those among us who are single parents may have our choices severely curtailed if the new initiative by the government to get single parents back into the workforce when their children become school-age comes into effect. If you see this as a step in the wrong direction, putting more stress on families already under stress, now is the time to speak out. Below is the contact details of the Senator to contact, plus you may like to contact your local federal MP. I have also included in-line the letter I have composed. Feel free to use this as a basis for your own correspondence.
Love Debbie

The Hon. Kay Patterson, Senator for Victoria
Minister for Family and Community Services
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women's Issues
Liberal Party of Australia

Parliament Contact:
Tel: (02) 6277 7560
Fax: (02) 6273 4122

Electorate Office:
Shop 3, 10-40 Burwood Highway,
Burwood East Vic 3151

To The Hon. Kay Patterson,

Recent plans by the Government to pressure single parents of school-aged children to return to the work seems out of step with the pre-election rhetoric of the Liberal Party's "concern for families". Single families are already feeling the strain of parenting in isolation without having more demands made from Centrelink.

Many of these families do choose to work but I feel it is imperative that we as a society value the choice to be a full time parent as a worthwhile endeavour. The fallout from families under stress litters our society already. Do we really want more "latch-key kids"; more parents too exhausted to have a decent conversation with their children; more institutionalization of the family with care providers having to step into the parent's role?

The families of Australia are very diverse, each with individual needs and dynamics. How does your government propose to take into account these differences? My personal situation is a case in point. I have opted to home educate my children. Only recently have I become a single parent and now, at this time of trauma, I may be required to return to the workforce, causing even further upheaval for my children.

To home educate ones children is a legal right in Australia. I place the duty to educate my children as the highest priority in my life and feel strongly that this contribution to society is of as much value as any job I could do in the workforce. My children see me working every day... organizing outings and activities, household chores (usually shared between two adults), doing the family finance, involvement in community projects (eg. Waterwatch, Urban Forest) etc. Even in purely financial terms, the cost to the state of my children attending school is greater than paying me single parenting payment.

I would entreat that you give due consideration to all the ramifications of the proposed changes and in particular the plight of single parents who wish to exercise the right to home educate their children.

Your Sincerely, ..........................................................

yours in love, light and peace,