Don’t force women to chose between poverty and violence

Unions NSW, along with other unions such as the IEU, is fighting for improvements to the Parenting Payment Single Allowance, so that women are not put in the situation where they have to choose between escaping domestic violence or living in poverty.

UTS Business School Professor Anne Summers recently released a report called The Choice: Violence or Poverty in which she outlines how, by encouraging women to leave abusive relationships, we are inadvertently consigning them to lives of poverty. Here is an extract from Dr Summers report:

“For decades now, and especially since 2011, when the federal government introduced its National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022, federal and state governments, as well as charitable organisations, the women’s services sector and concerned individuals have condemned domestic violence and have encouraged women to leave such relationships.

“In doing so, all of us have – unwittingly – consigned many, if not most, of these women to lives of deprivation, if not outright poverty and misery. As Bruce Chapman and Matt Taylor have shown with their use of HILDA data to track the incomes of women who separate from violent partners, the drop in income can be as high as 45 per cent.

“Some women are never able to recover economically. Is this what we intend when we encourage women to leave violent relationships? This may not have been our intention, but we need to be fully aware that for far too many women this has been the outcome.”

On 2 February, Unions NSW and its affiliates passed a resolution calling on the Federal Government, in relation to the Parenting Payment Single Allowance, to:

  • change the eligibility rules so the payment is available to single parents until their youngest child reaches the age of 16, or where the youngest child attends school post 16 years, the payment should continue until the child completes high school
  • Increase the rate so that it is equal to the age pension single rate, and
  • change the indexation and benchmarking so the payment aligns with pension indexation.

Union NSW and affiliates further moved to establish a process to work with and support Dr Summers in her work to improve the payment made to single parents.

Find the report here