Single parent and TAFE student Adrienne Watt, of Nimbin, with her son Tarquin, 7, is concerned about having to place him into c
Single parent and TAFE student Adrienne Watt, of Nimbin, with her son Tarquin, 7, is concerned about having to place him into c

Schools out, now get to work

By ANDY PARKS andy.parks@northernstar.com.au ADRIENNE WATT has been studying full-time at TAFE in Lismore, while her seven-year-old son Tarquin was at school.

Adrian said she loved the course in video production and is planning to go back in February next year when the course resumes.

But Adrienne, who receives a parenting payment from Centrelink, was told recently that she had to look for work over the holiday break and put her son in care.

Under rules introduced by the former Federal Government last year, anyone on a parenting payment whose children are aged between seven and 16 is required to register with an employment service provider and look for at least 15 hours of paid work every week.

In Adrienne's case that requirement is waived while she is undertaking full- time approved study. But now that TAFE has broken up for the summer holidays she is expected to find paid work or risk losing her benefits.

"My major objection is that I'm not able to do voluntary work. It has to be paid work, approved by Centrelink," she told The Northern Star.

"I have been looking for part-time work, but I'm a bit concerned about what I'm going to do with my son."

Elizabeth Silvolli, from Larnook, is in a similar situation.

She has been doing a certificate 4 in permaculture, which has finished for the year and resumes again in February.

She has three children aged six, nine and 12. She has been told by Centrelink she must join a job network and sign an agreement that she will accept any work that comes along.

"Living at Larnook there's not a lot of child-care available. But the Government doesn't accept that as a reason not to work. At one stage I was told if I couldn't find child-care near where I lived I would have to move," she said.

Adrienne Watt said she has spoken to a lot of people who were having trouble with Centrelink over the requirements that they look for work.

"It's causing people a lot of distress and anxiety," she said.

Adrienne is planning to hold a forum for people in Nimbin early next year and is considering making a documentary about people's Centrelink experiences, and wants people to email her on ady-tarquin@hotmail.com



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