(Image: AAP/Tracey Nearmy)

This is not a question of, 'whoops, what happened there?' This has been the effect of a sustained attack through policies and cuts targeted at single-parent families.

That's what Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services told the ParentsNext Senate hearing last week. ParentsNext is a program that requires people to attend compulsory activities every week -- say, story time or playgroup. If they fail to do this or fail to report it within a strict time frame their parenting payment is suspended.