My response to “doing it tough” 279



View Profile

Memory is an interesting thing and can lead us to have strong opinions on what is going on around us now.

The blog ‘We did it tough and had no help – then vs today’s parents’ lead to 931 comments in reply. The original article stated that in the 50s parents had family support, that in the 1970s parents were free ‘all the time’ to help out. The article was about the Liberal Party policy for paid parental leave. Some of the replies claimed there were ‘no benefits – we did it all on our own’; there was ‘no assistance whatsoever’. Other people remembered the importance of the two pounds endowment cheque for providing food, or school shoes as they were growing up, importantly, we were reminded that the past was different and people lived and coped as best they could – then and now. And, of course, there were some who had to blame the Liberal or Labor Party.

In truth, there is a bipartisan approach to supporting young families. As early as 1912, the Labor Prime Minister Fisher introduced a lump sum payment of 5 pounds (2 weeks wages of an unskilled worker) to the mother on the birth of a child. This was not means tested. Child endowment was introduced in NSW in 1927, but the big leap forward was in 1941 under the Menzies government when the United Australia Party (the forerunner to the Liberal Party) was in power. This was when the child endowment payment of 5 shillings a week per child was introduced, not counting the first child. He or she, apparently, could be raised on thin air. In 1950, the first child was included. A referendum was passed with both sides recommending it to the Australian people so that the Commonwealth government had responsibility for all pensions, just not the old age and invalid pensions in 1946.

Little changed until the 1970s when the Supporting Mothers’ Benefit was extended to those who were not widowed. This enabled many families to stay together, rather than children being put into homes. In 1976, child endowment was called family allowance and increased by 300 per cent. It was not means tested. As a stay at home mum, with two littlies, this was greatly received in my circle of friends who were in similar circumstances.

From the 80s on there is a mix of means tested allowances and tax rebates, so that it is not possible to generalise about what the ‘average’ family was receiving in government assistance, directly or indirectly.

In 1994 paid maternity leave was introduced, and in 1998 a parenting allowance for either mother or father.

Currently, parental leave is at $641.05 per week before tax for a maximum of 18 weeks. This payment is dependent on certain work history, residence and income tests. There is an upfront Newborn Payment or Newborn Supplement.

What the Liberal Party proposed, according to their website, was six months leave based on the parent’s actual wage or the national minimum wage, whichever was greater. This was to be seen as a workforce entitlement, not a welfare payment and was primarily seen as measure to increase Australia’s productivity.

It seems to me that this policy was never well explained, and it was badly timed as there were calls that Australians had to learn the age of entitlement was over.

Social and economic conditions have changed since we were growing up, and since we were bringing up our own young families. Women are a lot better educated, expectations have changed in all sorts of ways – whether we think that is a good thing or not. The challenge is to continue to support young families, and all those who deserve government support, and balance Australia’s budget.


Share your thoughts.

Vivienne Beddoe

  1. whilst I never really got along with my mother in law…I will never take away the fact that she raised her 4 boys…without any help from government or husband…she worked 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to see that they were clothed and fed…she had them in surf clubs…football and school…..they never went without…and she was scorned for being a single mum…well done mum

  2. often wonder if some that i know today could stay at home cook instead of takeaway most nights 1 car not 2 general cutting of waste no chikdcare .would the one wage be enough .

  3. Not only very little government help but interest rates were at 17% . We didn’t go far but spent a lot of time with the kids as a family doing picnics, national parks, play grounds.

    1 REPLY
  4. I raised 3 son’s and 1 daughter in that period it was hard but my kids didn’t miss out the boys had their sport and my daughter had her ballet did a lot of running around we managed

  5. ,”TOUGH” doesn’t really cut the mustard for me! I arrived from the U.K. in 1966 with 2 littlies, had 2 more, (4 under 5) and no friends or relations in Australia! We made it virtually on our own, I am proud to say, my adult children now are all “very well adjusted” and none the worse for not having all the lurks and perks that kids get these days. Also, discipline and manners were No.1.!!!!!

  6. In 1975 I received $6 every 3 months for one child I remember his first Clark walkers cost $18

  7. We got no government help when we raised our twins. I remember getting $16 child endowment every 3 months for 2 kids, I usually got clothes for them with that.
    My husband and I worked and supported our children, I am sure it was a good lesson for them as they have always worked from age 14, they’ve never expected hand outs.

  8. I was a single mother in 1972… worked, looked after my daughter,( thankfully with help of my mum),provided health benefits, all school uniforms etc etc paid taxes with NO help from the father and received 50c-$1 a week child endowment..there was No single parents pension, no child support agency……..until I married in 1978 & had the help of a wonderful man…. so Just saying!!!!!! I have worked since I was 16 years old in various jobs..even while I was at school as my parenst then could barely afford to send me to years 11 & 12…I partly paid for that myself… I have no regrets just wish they would treat us over 60’s with the respect & assistance that we need NOW!!!! Just saying????

    21 REPLY
    • In 1972 my husband took off on us leaving us with nothing, I received a government pension for myself & the kids plus child endowment, I don’t know why you wouldn’t have been able to receive this as well.

    • If you were an unmarried mother in 1972 you didn’t receive any benefits. The unmarried mothers benefit (which is what it was called ) came into play in 1973 after Labor gained power by winning the Federal Election in December 1972. Women who were married and were deserted received a widow’s pension type B. I hope this clarifies thing.

    • In 1972 my Husband was retrenched and we didnt get any government assistance Lyn. We were living in a housing Commission home paying $14 week and I had to go out and Canvess S& G doft drinks at the time and our parents helped us with food. No Government assistance then. So get your facts straight

    • Yes agree as I was a deserted wife in the sixty’s, and you only got food vouchers for the first 6 months, if you were single you got nothing and was forced to give your child up for adoption unless you had a supportive family.

    • We all had it tough. We bought clothing furniture as we needed it not wanted it. For years our coffee table was 2 empty boxes taped together and a piece of material over it. You were classed rich if you had a colour TV and a home phone. Government didn’t give freebies, Salvos were our only help.

    • I dont consider raising a family tough with or without money…love roof over our heads food on the table and clothes on ouur backs…always free activities to special a trip to the movies

    • I had my first child in 1972 and l received an unmarried mothers pension, child endowment was 2 dollars a month and l lived at home with my parents

    • I used to feel for the young single mums in those days. I saw some have to give up their babies. Heart renching. We married young & my hubby was a drinker but always worked & loved me dearly. I did appreciate my life with all my 7 babies, 6 living, after seeing such heartbreak for others.

    • I remember most all the boys leaving school around 15 & straight into apprenticeships, the bank, railways etc. bought their first cars & did them up to take us girls out to fun dances, picnics & of course the drive in. Wonderful for employment in those days. Not so lucky for the young ones now. My youngest put himself through uni & his masters by working very hard.

    • Being born in 51 our father leaving my brother sister & myself when I was 4 my mum had to go back to work to put food on the table & a roof over our heads…Lucky for us my nanna lived with us so she was always there when we got home from school we were the lucky ones..
      But I know it was tough on my poor mum who work 2 jobs to pay off her own home.Factory work in the day & cleaning offices at night..And god love her we still have her with us at 95 but alsa she is bedridden & my sister & her husband care for her in the home that she worked for so hard to keep…

    • Same worked, paid my taxes, brought up my kids with good education and yes 50c a month for the first child and $2 I think for the second, no benefits, no getting paid for having kids (my choice) and no getting paid to stay at home. The poor young ones must wonder how we survived, still had one car, a fridge and a TV and our trusty sewing machine. Life if hard for poor young ones!!

    • One “poor young one” was on tv the other day saying how much easier her Mother had had things..all while playing on her smart phone drinking her $9 beer and wondering how to juggle credit card payments. Mummy didn’t have it easier dear, she just didn’t expect to have everything right now thanks, or for anyone else to give it to her.

    • Yes my mother supported me with children while I worked. Today is totally different grandparents cannot stay home today. I could go from one job to another, cant do that today. This country was so blessed when we acknowledged prayer in schools, home. today more about humans needs and God kicked out of everything. Cant look back to the past need to look at whats happening now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *