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.