CONTROVERSIAL changes to single parent welfare payments have been passed through the Senate, sparking fierce debate and fears of heightened poverty.
The changes will see single parents moved from Centrelink's parenting payment and on to the Newstart Allowance as soon as their youngest child turns eight.
The dole currently works out to about $39 a day for these parents and could see them lose as much as $115 a week.
It is estimated up to 100,000 parents will be affected.
St Vincent de Paul has declared its support for single parents.
Chief executive Dr John Falzon said he feared the affected sole parents and their children would be driven deeper into poverty once moved on to "the pittance" of the dole.
"We are in complete solidarity with these families. This is a matter of justice," he said.
"We wholly support people's transition to the workforce but you do not help people do this by forcing them on to a woefully inadequate payment."
The Daily News took the issue to Facebook yesterday and received mixed but equally passionate responses.
Denni Elle took to the social networking site to vent her anger at the changes.
"It's disgusting, where are the 100,000 jobs going to pop up from?" she asked.
"Where are the child care placements going to come from?
"Where do all the special needs kids go when mum or dad have to work?
"It's a vote grab and a way to show they're tough."
Odille Esmonde-Morgan agreed.
"It's appalling. I have no children myself but can see that eight years is far too young to be expected to come home to a house with no mum," she posted.
Jayne Shelley was of a differing opinion and welcomed the toughened approach.
"Awesome. I go out and work, pay a lot of tax. I think it is good, go get a job, why should people get something for nothing?
"If you can't afford to raise a child, don't have children."
Emma Skye Wolff agreed, saying parents already received the child care rebate.
"I think it should be as soon as your youngest child turns six and goes to school."
The National Welfare Rights Network's Maree O'Halloran slammed the new legislation, saying sole parent families were the group that were most at risk of poverty.
"It is ironic this legislation passed just days before the launch of Anti-poverty Week this Sunday," she said.