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Single mums can afford the basics due to pandemic: report

  • September 17 2020
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Single mums can afford the basics due to pandemic: report

By Cameron Micallef
September 17 2020

Australian single mothers are no longer skipping meals to feed their children, being forced to wear the poorest clothing or having to steal nappies as changes to social benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic raise living standards, new research has found.

Single mums can afford the basics due to pandemic

Single mums can afford the basics due to pandemic: report

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  • September 17 2020
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Australian single mothers are no longer skipping meals to feed their children, being forced to wear the poorest clothing or having to steal nappies as changes to social benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic raise living standards, new research has found.

Single mums can afford the basics due to pandemic

A report conducted by the Brotherhood of St Laurence pointed out that while the standard of living has temporarily been raised, 1.1 million children will be impacted when the government reverts back to pre-COVID levels from 25 September. 

“Many of the women that we interviewed reported high levels of stress and anxiety as they were constantly worrying about money, budgeting and working out how to pay their bills,” said Dina Bowman, principal research fellow at the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

The report found that many women on government benefits felt trapped. 

“Even with careful budgets, making ends meet is a struggle. The single mothers we interviewed had to skimp on food, heating and clothing, and their children missed out on school activities and social events. Poverty also affected mothers’ mental health and wellbeing,” the report said.

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The Trampolines not traps report found that prior to the pandemic starting, women were forced to steal items in order to make ends meet.

“For example, Paula had a total fortnightly income of $1,300. She paid $1,600 rent a month and had a large Centrelink debt. She told us that at times she had shoplifted food and nappies out of sheer desperation,” the report said.

Paula, a twenty-something mother of a two-year-old boy, explained why she was forced to shoplift. 

“It’s like out of necessity, though, that I do things like that; it puts myself at risk because then, if I was to get caught and charged, well then that affects other jobs that I might be able to get in the future,” Paula said.

The study highlights the structural inequality that has hit single-parent families so hard and will continue to do so once the supplement is removed. 

As Ms Bowman and her co-author, Seuwandi Wickramasinghe, said: “Women and children need strong foundations: stable, safe and affordable housing; affordable good quality child care; decent and inclusive employment; flexible access to education and training, and a fair social security system.”

“As a guide to reform, we propose a framework to highlight the enabling conditions that single mothers and their children need as part of a just, compassionate and sustainable society. 

“Such a society will promote gender equity and recognise the value and fair sharing of unpaid work and care. The framework provides a guide to ambitious reform and a reminder of how apparently unrelated policies play out in everyday lives of individuals and communities,” the report concluded.

Single mums can afford the basics due to pandemic: report
Single mums can afford the basics due to pandemic
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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