18 January 2023, Guardian Australia, Stephanie Convery. Access the full article here.

Committee hears ParentNext program is ‘punitive and prescriptive’, with threats of payment suspensions ‘significantly detrimental’ for families

The chair of a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial ParentsNext program has described the suggestion that in some cases single parents may be required to check in with the agency daily or risk having their welfare payments suspended as “bonkers”.

The Labor MP Julian Hill was questioning representatives of the National Employment Services Association (Nesa) and Jobs Australia, the peak bodies for commercial and not-for-profit companies that facilitate Australia’s billion-dollar outsourced welfare-to-work system, Workforce Australia.

As part of the parliament’s House select committee inquiry into Workforce Australia, Wednesday’s hearing examined the $110m-a-year ParentsNext program, a compulsory course for around 80,000 parenting payment recipients who are forced to attend appointments and complete activities, including storytime and playgroup sessions, that are supposed to help them with parenting and to return to work.

In all but very few cases, young parents face various forms of hardship, inequity and stigmatisation

– Jill Roche, Chief Executive of BRAVE Foundation

Employment services survey

The Punishment for Profit report is based on hundreds of responses to surveys conducted by the Antipoverty Centre. This research is ongoing. If you are in Workforce Australia, Disability Employment Services or a similar program, we welcome any information you are able to share about your experiences.

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