Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Sole Parents Deserve Praise and Support

“Sole parents are one the most maligned groups in our society,” Senator Vanstone said today at the Towards Opportunity and Prosperity conference in Melbourne.

“We still have people who believe that most sole parents are teenage mothers who have chosen to make a career out of having babies. However, the facts tell a different story. Teenage pregnancies are at their lowest in a long, long time. Only 1.74% of births in 2000 were to teenage mothers.

“Another myth that needs debunking is that sole parents – particularly women, do not want to participate economically. Again, the facts tell a different story.

“In terms of the welfare demographic, sole parents are the strongest economic participators. Around half of the Parenting Payment Single customers earn more than $13,000 per annum. Nearly 48 per cent of sole parents who work, work full-time.

“It is now widely considered to be a good thing for toxic relationships to end, not only for the future happiness of the adults, but in many cases, for the benefit of the children as well.

“Some may argue that the ‘me’ generation has become, or always was, terribly selfish – that the level of toxicity they are prepared to tolerate is extremely low or that their acute selfish determination to seek their own personal happiness actively fuels the toxicity.

“I am not arguing that families should necessarily stay together. But I do want to argue that couples ought consider, before focussing on their personal pursuit of happiness, and before finally breaking up, the important social and economic consequences of their action. For instance, the whole family now needs to runs two households on a fairly similar income,” Senator Vanstone said.