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Single mother goes to UN

Imagine having to get someone else to provide proof you aren’t shagging anyone on a regular basis and that even if you are, you aren’t getting financial support, writes Jenna Price in the Sydney Morning Herald.

That’s what happens to single mothers in Australia if they want to be eligible for welfare.

It is a miserable life for a single mother on welfare in Australia, so hard that one woman, Juanita McLaren, has decided to take her complaint all the way to the United Nations. She says the way Australia treats single mums breaches human rights and now, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will be hearing from her directly at a UN Women’s conference in New York this month.

In fact, he will be presenting by her side. Huge honour and some of us might have put that on our credit cards. She had to crowdfund to get there.

McLaren, who has also had to get proof she’s not in a financially-bound relationship in order to be eligible for Newstart, worked full-time when her kids were little. Then her husband, who was the primary carer, left the family and now lives overseas.

It was all the little things on top of the poverty that motivated her to make a complaint.

In some respects, McLaren is fortunate. She’s had steady part-time work for a couple of years now, which is slightly seasonal.

But it’s the constant battle with Centrelink, with managing her family and money, with being forced to apply for hopeless work she doesn’t want, that forced McLaren to turn to the UN.


Why one single mother has complained to the UN (Sydney Morning Herald)