"I am a single parent and I am not lazy."

A single parent has something she wants to say.

In this country, it seems it makes us comfortable to put things in boxes. This guy is a Muslim, so he’s an extremist or terrorist. This woman wore a short skirt and walked down the street and got raped, so she was asking for it. The guy sleeping on a bench at the train station is homeless, so he must be a drug addict. And one that we really love is single parents. This woman has three kids and is a single parent. Clearly, she’s just having kids to get the pension.

As if Julia Gillard pushing us off the Single Parenting Payment and onto Newstart wasn’t enough, single parents now have to endure cuts to the family tax benefit.

Do people think parents sit around all day with our feet up, watching the money roll in? Has anyone who has held power in our past two governments sat down and had a hard look at the consequences cuts to single parents – and families – will have on the country’s future?

Every cut pushes parents further into the workplace, consequently taking us further away from our children who need us. It puts pressure on us to make ends meet and the ones who pay are our children.

As if Gillard pushing us off the Single Parenting Payment and onto Newstart wasn’t enough. Image via Getty.

You don’t just get divorced on a whim. Some women are fleeing abusive relationships and they are scared. Some have no money. Their children are afraid. They are fighting custody battles. They are under immense pressure, not only during the divorce, but up until their children are adults.

I am not saying single parents shouldn’t work. But there should be more flexibility on the number of hours they work, because sometimes, our children need us. During the six years since my divorce I have been in hospital eight times. In fact, a recent Harvard study has shown that single parents are more likely be sick later in life because of the immense stress placed on their bodies.

Governments complain that there is too much stress on our hospitals, but do they look at innovative ways to minimise this? It seems logical to me that placing extra pressure on single parents – and families – will just make us sicker as a population, thus perpetuating the hospital saga. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take care of our country’s most vulnerable, so they don’t get sick, rather than further subjugating them to unfair policies? Think of how much money we could save. Not only in hospitals, but in the entire heath industry – GPs, psychologists etc.

People don’t separate on a whim.

Our children are not being considered by the government. You can throw whatever childcare rebates you want at me, but I’m not going to use them. My child needs me and she’s number one. So if I have to work less to be there to pick her up after school then I’ll do it.

It’s hard being a child of divorced parents. It’s hard living in two households. It’s hard when you live in one household and you never see your mum because she’s always working. It’s heartbreaking. Research has already shown that children from broken families are more prone to mental illness.

So why aren’t we helping these children? Why are we not helping create an environment for them that allows them to flourish? Instead we are creating high-stress environments that can cause further problems down the line. We want happy, healthy children, not sick ones.

Watch the Social Services minister discuss the family tax benefit in Question Time. (Post continues after video.)

Cutting the family tax benefit won’t just affect single parents, it will also affect nuclear families. One in three marriages end in divorce. Financial stress is one of the factors that can contribute to a marriage breaking down. I have never aspired to be a single parent on the pension.

It was not my choice to be a single parent. Yet I am made to feel like a criminal every time I talk to Centrelink. Yes, there are people that abuse the system. Yes, there are people who are single parents and addicted to drugs. But that is a drug problem, not a single parent problem.

There is a stereotype of what a single parent is in this country, and we, as a nation, need to shake that stereotype if we are ever to move on to create a happier, healthier, more cohesive society.

Koraly Dimitriadis is a poet, writer, actor, performer, filmmaker and the author of Love and F**k Poems. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook or view her website here.

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