Should single mums receive welfare?

On Tuesday I read an interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald regarding a single mum of two  teenage children and how she was able to budget on her Centrelink (welfare) payment - in particular feed her family on $120 ($119 US) per fortnight.   The story was about how it was possible to make healthy meals from scratch on a very tight budget.  These recipes she has placed on her blog.  

The reason for writing this is not about living on a budget, it is about the comments she received (which you can find at the bottom of the newspaper article, all 202) that were both scathing and vicious.  Why, because she left her paid employment (as a clerk) which she "hated", then couldn't find any other employment and had no choice but to remain at home and receive unemployment benefits.  Many of those who commented used words such as "leeching off the public purse" and "bludging".  It appears from the comments that there is a very negative attitude about single mothers at home receiving welfare when they "should" be working.   I am sure married mothers who remain at home have heard similar comments themselves.

It must be very tough for single mothers who strongly believe that at home with the children is the best place to be, when society says otherwise - in particular for those who have no choice but to rely on government welfare benefits.  In fact the Australian government makes it hard for single mothers to stay at home - once their youngest children is six they must find some sort of paid employment (at least part time employment), they cannot stay at home full-time "forever".

I know we have people on welfare that should perhaps not be receiving it, but we also have a large number that are in need of assistance.  It would appear that we have reached a point in society where all "able bodied" people are expected to work.  In fact only a few weeks ago I read a report from the Australian Productivity Commission that was "concerned" about the number of women 45+  (mature women) who were not in employment (around 30%) and did not want to work (almost all).  Women chose not to work for a number of reasons and many who are not in the paid workforce are contributing to society and this should be valued.  It is a sad reflection of our modern society when we are viewed as a commodity rather than people and seen as "sponging" if receiving welfare when "other" believe you are capable of working.



  1. WOW! Some of those comments are scathing, aren't they? I hate the way feminism has infiltrated our society so much so that a woman is not even "allowed" to stay at home and take care of her family in peace (according to people's attitudes). Back in eras gone by, people would have tried to assist a single mother (especially if she was a widow, in those days... maybe not so much if she was single by choice), rather than critisising her so horribly.
    And no matter what people say, I would rather stay at home with my children - it is a much richer way to play a part in their growing-up, even if being a single-income family makes life tough. Thankfully I don't get many bad comments about my/our choice these days...

  2. I always hated being in the work force. I found it stressful & exhausting & it left me with very litle energy for those who are suppossed to matter to me most. I know there are bludgers in the system ~ but not everyone is & there is absolutelu no need to be so horrible. What about all the people who lie to get the maximum benifits ~ & as welfare recipients [I am a care for a disabled husband] it upsets me to see people rorting the system for thousands when we make do on what we are legally entitled to & do without so many things because of it. I applaud this mum for managing on her allowance. It is hard to do well but she seems to have managed nicely.

  3. PS I made the bread recipe that the lady makes (the one that appears in the newspaper article) and it turns out really well - I used half wholemeal/half white flour.

    Clara - feminists talk about choice, but really what they mean is no choice at all, except their way.

  4. I'm with Clara and Ganeida. I have felt a lot of pressure to return to work especially because of the years (and money) invested in my education. But I believe that I am supposed to be at home with my kids. I have finally decided to compromise, at least for a few years, and work 10 hours a week so that we can be out of debt in a year or so--and then be able to buy a house. I fully understand the concept that they able bodied should work and we do have our share of folks who abuse the system (in NZ). But I totally applaud this woman for staying home and making it work. It's not easy. And I bet her children are better off for having had her around! Thanks for sharing the budgeting/recipes.

  5. I just wanted to add--WOW! Thanks for the link to her blog. We are really struggling at the moment with spending too much on groceries. I think these tips and recipes might really help.

  6. Bonnie, the recipes look great don't they - implan to try some of them. I have already made her bread twice, once this morning and everyone loves it. Home make bread is so much nicer than the bought bread! Makes the house smell wonderful:)

  7. Thanks for the link - I could use some ideas for cheap meals. :o)

    Sorry to hear that so many people wrote so badly of her though. That was bad.

  8. I'm still reeling from the nastiness in some peoples' comments on that article. Can't even get my head around why people find it necessary to vent their spleen like that.
    I don't encourage young women to become single mums but the reality is happens. A sensible girl can make ends meet on a fairly small income AND give her child/ children a good upbringing.

    (I like the look of some of her recipes as well:-)

  9. Dearest Jo, I just want to thank you for all you beautiful comments you leave for me on my blog, they touch my heart.

    It truly amazes me how in this day and age many people still put everyone and everything into boxes and feel that they can say what they feel like without thinking. I think your post is wonderful and totally agree with you, we never really know the stories behind every situation or face and every one is a individual who should be valued.

    Have a beautiful weekend, hopefully a little cooler!! xxx


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