Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia


30 MAY 2023


The Albanese Government has labelled as punitive a pre-employment program for young parents that requires them to meet with a service provider just once every three months to continue to receive employment benefits.

The meetings could be conducted virtually or by phone if the participant chose to.

Labor Senator Murray Watt, representing Employment Minister Tony Burke, told a Senate Estimates hearing that the Government had decided to make the ParentsNext program voluntary and end mutual obligations because they were punitive.

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Senator Michaelia Cash questioned Senator Watt and the Department about the reasons for the ending of mutual obligations and what would be put in place to support the almost 100,000 people, mostly young women, on the program.

Senator Watt and officials from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations were unable to tell the hearing what measures were now in place to ensure these young parents did not fall through the cracks by not getting the support they need.

Senator Cash said it was likely this cohort would be further removed from participation in the workforce with an increasing likelihood that generational unemployment would impact their families.

“I do not think that most Australians would think that a meeting once every three months to receive unemployment benefits is particularly onerous or punitive,’’ Senator Cash said.

“And my real fear is that this Government is just abandoning these people with no plan for what comes next for them,’’ she said.

“The Government is saying to these people ‘we don’t care whether you get on the path to employment or not’,” Senator Cash said.