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Single parents at the 'bottom of the rung', study finds

4 May, 2023

Interview by Milly Smyth, adapted by Sofia Kent 

A new study has highlighted widespread discrimination against single parents in Aotearoa. Photo: Canva.

Listen to the full interview 

A collaborative study from Ngāti Kahungunu and Project Gender, The Mako Mama Mangopare Single Parents Project, has found that many single parents face systemic barriers that affect access to education, employment, healthcare, and other basic needs. 

Project Gender Director Angela Meyer told 95bFM’s The Wire that the study, which collected data from more than 3500 single parents, sought to understand what changes need to happen to allow single parents to both survive and thrive. 

Insights from survey and focus group data were workshopped with policymakers, MPs, and community voices to identify 82 recommendations to make meaningful and lasting change.

Meyer said getting access to basic needs such as housing is significantly harder for single parents.

“A lot of single parents that we spoke to said that they are often at the bottom of the rung when it comes to being able to rent a home.”

The study showed funding work can also be more difficult for a single parent. Lack of affordable childcare, raising children, and reduced benefit payments are among the barriers that prevent single parents from entering paid employment.

Meyers said employers often hesitate to hire single parents due to the stigma surrounding their reliability. 

Shifting the narrative of what it means to be a single parent is a key area for improvement outlined in the report, and promoting positive narratives will be a part of a campaign to reduce negative beliefs about single parents. 

Meyers highlighted the prevalence of a single-parent family experience in Aotearoa and said neglecting to share their stories or dismiss the significance of their experiences would be a “big disservice.”

“It is really important that, as a country, we start understanding that family can mean lots of different things.”

The organisations plan to create a “one-stop shop” ‘Navigators Portal’ as a single accessible source of crucial information for single parents.