The government has been urged to immediately overhaul its controversial pre-employment scheme, Parents Next by the providers contracted to administer the program, The Guardian reports.
The services have revealed how parents are being referred to charities because their welfare payments have been wrongly suspended.
The cases – which have prompted not-for-profit job service providers to ask the minister to intervene – include a woman who had her payments suspended because she was admitted to hospital while 33 weeks pregnant and could not report to Centrelink.
Peak body Jobs Australia has told the jobs minister, Kelly O’Dwyer, that participants – who are predominantly single mothers – were being told to visit emergency relief on a Friday to get food for the weekend because their payments could not be restored until Monday.
Those in rural areas who did not have smart phones or internet data were also facing suspensions because they could not report to Centrelink, it said.
The providers have urged the department to remove Parents Next from the targeted compliance framework (TCF), a system that results in welfare recipients having their payments suspended and eventually facing sanctions if they do not meet certain activities.
A Senate committee inquiry is being held into the program, which has faced criticism after it was rolled out nationally and made compulsory for about 75,000 parents in July.
Participants, who can have a child as young as six months, are required to report their attendance at a compulsory activity, often story time or playgroup, as well as report their fortnightly income, even if they are not in work. Failure to do results in a suspension of their parenting payment.