On 31 March 2021, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights resolved to conduct a short inquiry into the Social Security (Parenting payment participation requirements – class of persons) Instrument 2021 [F2021L00064] (the measure) as part of its function of examining legislative instruments for compatibility with human rights (under section 7(a) of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011).
The committee is seeking evidence on the human rights implications of this measure, and in particular, evidence in relation to the following issues:
- whether and how it has been demonstrated that participants in the ParentsNext program who have had their Parenting Payment reduced, suspended or cancelled for non-compliance are able to meet their basic needs (and those of their children) in practice, such that they have an adequate standard of living, and whether and how this is assessed before payments may be affected;
- the extent to which the ParentsNext program operates flexibly in practice, such that it treats different cases differently (including for parents in regional areas and Indigenous parents);
- the extent to which participation in the ParentsNext program meets its stated objectives of effectively addressing barriers to education and employment for young parents in practice, and whether making participation compulsory is effective to achieve those objectives;
- what consultation has there been with Indigenous groups in relation to the compulsory participation of Indigenous peoples in the ParentsNext program;
- whether, and based on what evidence, it has been demonstrated that less rights restrictive alternatives to compulsory participation (such as voluntary or incentivised participation) would not be as effective to achieve the stated objectives of this scheme; and
- the extent to which linking welfare payments to the performance of certain activities by the welfare recipient is consistent with international human rights law, particularly the rights to social security, an adequate standard of living, equality and non-discrimination, a private life, and the rights of the child.
The Social Security (Parenting payment participation requirements – class of persons) Instrument 2021 can be found here and its explanatory statement here.
The committee recently published a preliminary analysis of the legislative instrument in its scrutiny Report 2 of 2021 (at pages 58–66), and sought a response from the Minister. The Minister has now provided a response, which can be accessed here.
The committee has invited identified stakeholders and experts to provide submissions in relation to this legislative instrument by 4 May 2021. This call for submissions is open to any person or oganisation who wishes to provide evidence in relation to this measure.
Submissions may be published on the internet
The committee can decide to receive submissions as public documents—which are published on the committee webpage. If your submission is published, the information in it, including your name, can be searched for on the internet.
You can ask for your submission to be confidential or your personal details withheld
The committee can also decide to receive submissions on a confidential basis. If you do not want your submission to be publicly available, you can ask the committee to keep your submission confidential – please include the word confidential on the front of your submission as well as a reason for requesting confidentiality.
If you wish your submission to be publicly available, but do not want your submission to include your personal details, you can ask the committee to withhold your name and personal details when publishing.
The committee may conduct a public hearing as part of this inquiry. This page will be updated accordingly should this take place.
The committee intends to conclude this inquiry and table a report in August 2021.