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Essentials of life

Single parent households - doing without

Commencing January 2013, single parents whose youngest child was eight or older were moved from the Parenting Pension (single rate) to the lower payment rate of Newstart Allowance. The impact of this legislative change has had a marked impact on many single parent households.

For single parents, limited economic resources place restrictions on what they can afford to have and do, including access to services and recreational and social activities for themselves and their children. Limited finances have compromised single parent’s capacity for risk mitigation measures with 93 per cent having limited or no savings, 84 per cent unable to afford home contents insurance and 65 per cent without car insurance (Chart 27a).


"Living from week to week is difficult. When something happens that is not budgeted for it can ruin you for weeks: borrowing money, then having to pay it back, then not having enough money to live until the debt is payed off. This is what happens to me." - Respondent comment

"Cutting single parent pension is leaving me, the parent, without food for myself three out of seven days per week." - Respondent comment

"I am a single parent going through hard times, with high rent making it hard to live. Being on Newstart as a single parent has made it harder."- Respondent comment



Chart 27a essentials of life children of single parent household

What children are doing without

The costs of schooling, out of school activities and health are restricting single parents’ capacity to provide essentials for their children (Chart 27b) (1). Over half (57%) of the children of single parents are unable to participate in out of school activities due to their parents limited financial capacity, with 38 per cent unable to participate in school based activities .Forty-one per cent of children were attending school without an up to date uniform, school books and/or required equipment (Chart 27b).


"At the moment with my three children and with all my bills coming out via Centrepay I am left with $500 a fortnight to live – food, nappies, formula, school and kinder, etc. My children can’t receive extra curriculum activities which breaks my heart they have to miss out. I try but with no family support network and cut funding for family services it’s just very hard." - Respondent comment


Chart 27b essentials of life children of single parents

Single parents - multiple deprivation

In terms of the level of multiple deprivations, single parents reported similar high levels of multiple deprivations as the general cohort, with 78 per cent of respondents missing out on five or more items simultaneously (Chart 28a). 

Chart 28a children of single parents deprivation

Children of single parents - multiple deprivation

Similar to the general cohort (Chart 14), 22 per cent of children experienced no deprivation and 23 per cent missed out on only one of the six indicators (Chart 28b). This suggested that while parents might limit their own access to essential items, they were likely to put their best efforts to make sure their children did not go without the essential items. Unfortunately, over 50 per cent of children were still deprived of two or more of the six essential items with the majority missing out on social and recreational experiences both in and out of school.

"As a single mother it is hard to have all my children in school and daycare, and still be able to afford to find work." - Respondent comment

Chart 28b children of single parents deprivation

1. Non-response rate has been excluded from the calculations, but its size (12%) suggests a need for caution when using this information.