Committee recommends abolition of ParentsNext

Issue date: Wednesday, 1 March 2023

House of Representatives media release header

The Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services today tabled its interim report into ParentsNext, and recommended that the controversial program be abolished.

Committee Chair, Mr Julian Hill MP, said “It is clear that ParentsNext is not the flexible, compassionate, supportive service that is needed. It has become too damaged and should be replaced with a supportive service to help vulnerable parents.

“Governments have a responsibility to support parents to achieve full economic and social participation. This is a moral imperative and an economic priority.

“Parents have a right to choose to actively parent their babies and very young children, and this right should not be available only to wealthy parents. Caring for young children is work which used to be valued in its own right, and a mandatory focus on preparing parents of very young children for future employment is a very patriarchal view of caring and doesn’t take account of enormous diversity in the needs of families and children.

“The Committee recommends sweeping changes to ParentsNext before it is abolished to allow a new pre-vocational service to be designed and put in place. These include the removal of Parenting Payment cancellations, full payment suspensions and onerous participation and reporting requirements.

“Major changes are also proposed to the way a future service is delivered, including reducing competition between providers and having a public sector agency—probably Services Australia—deliver the service in at least a few regions.

“We thank the inspiring parents and workers who spoke up for their time and, at times raw, honesty. Those conversations directly inform our report and will stay with us as we continue our work.”

The Committee’s unanimous report makes 30 recommendations. Key recommendations include that ParentsNext be abolished at the end of its current contract and replaced with a pre-vocational service focused on building participants’ capacity and helping them realise their individual goals, and which truly values parenting. The service must be co-designed with people who will be most impacted by the new service.

Most of the Committee’s other recommendations relate to design and implementation of the new service, including draft eligibility and participation requirements, compliance and enforcement; commissioning and service delivery; funding and resources; skills and training requirements; and supporting innovation, experimentation, and robust, data-driven evaluation.

To allow for the co-design and implementation of the new service short contract extensions will be required. In the meantime, the Committee has called for a transition plan to be released by the Government by this July, outlining changes that can be implemented as soon as possible, to address serious concerns identified and provide ParentsNext participants with a more positive and supportive experience before the new service is in place.

Some of the themes and issues covered in this interim report, such as skills and training for frontline staff, and the role of government in service delivery, will also be examined as part of the Committee’s broader in inquiry into Workforce Australia Employment Services.

Information about the inquiry, including the interim report, Terms of Reference, future public hearings, published submissions and hearing transcripts, is available on the inquiry website.

Media inquiries

Mr Julian Hill MP, Chair:  (03) 9791 7770

For background information

Committee Secretariat: (02) 6277 2220,

House of Representatives media release header