This article about support for single mothers was last updated in 2022.
The single mother journey is often long and complex. Never feel embarrassed to ask for support along the way.
Whether you are in the first stages of your separation or are trying to adjust to your new life as a single parent, there are many helpful resources available. And you are totally and utterly justified to reach for them.
For this reason, we have compiled a list of services to assist with various aspects of support for single parents. These include:
- Accommodation assistance
- Family violence help
- Financial hardship resources
- Financial separation support
- Legal and mediation support
- Mental health resource spaces
- Social support groups
- Parenting support
All support services we list are available Australia-wide, but it is certainly worth checking out services in your local area.
ST VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY
The St Vincent de Paul Society is a Catholic organisation that has been around for over 170 years helping people in need across Australia and in 153 countries around the world. If you are a homeless single parent with children, Vinnies will help you find temporary accommodation and support to find permanent accommodation.
They provide regular visits from a support worker to assess your situation, make plans for housing, health and school and provide emotional support. They also transport you to appointments and provide life skills training like parenting and budgeting. Among their many referrals include Centrelink, housing, counselling, childcare, and legal. You will be asked to contribute towards temporary housing rental depending on your income.
Link to website: St Vincent de Paul Society
Contact phone number: 13 18 12
THE SALVATION ARMY
The Salvation Army is a global non-profit dedicated to helping people in need. Salvation Army Australia is the largest provider of homelessness and other free services in the country. Professional volunteers and donations make it possible for Salvos to provide free services, including accommodation, meals, case management, counselling, limited financial assistance, referrals and advocacy.
They have specific homelessness services for adults and families as well as families with children. If you are in need of immediate assistance, Salvos has multiple locations across the country. It’s easy to find help online. Head to their website and enter your suburb or postcode to find a homelessness service near your area.
Link to website: Salvation Army
Contact phone number: 13 SALVOS (13 72 58)
One of the oldest Christian charitable organisations in the country, Mission Australia provides free assistance to people at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness. Their goal is to end homelessness and ensure that people in need can thrive. Most of their services are funded by the government while others are supported by donations.
Mission Australia provides homelessness and social housing services as well as support for disadvantaged families, children and youth, mental health/addiction, disability, and employment and skills training. Financial planning and legal assistance are also available. For accommodation services, contact your state-based information and referral services directly.
FAMILY VIOLENCE HELP
1800RESPECT is the country’s 24/7 sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing abuse. It also provides information for people who support those experiencing abuse. Funded by the Department of Social Services, 1800RESPECT is a confidential service available round the clock. Counsellors provide information on sexual assault, domestic violence and abuse and referrals to helpful contacts.
1800RESPECT is a crisis centre and online service like Lifeline. When you pick up the phone, what you say and how much you say is up to you. Counsellors will give assistance and referrals based on the information you provide.
Listen to this chat with 1800Respect on the Beanstalk Single Mums Podcast: Helping single mums move forward after DV.
Link to website: 1800RESPECT
Contact phone number: 1800 737 732
Reachout is a free self-help service dedicated to mental health and is great support for single mothers. It is the most accessed online mental health service for Aussie youths and their parents. Reachout is committed to helping people in an abusive relationship through online counselling and referrals. If you are a young person who doesn’t know what to do about your abusive relationship or where to get help, Reachout is for you.
Reachout’s evidence-based approach to mental health support and easy-to-use online tools and apps are big draws, especially for teenagers. The information they provide also makes it easier for parents to help their kids. While not a crisis service, Reachout lists emergency contacts on their website and directs users to their peer-support forums.
Link to website: Reachout
Contact phone number: 02 8029 7777 (general inquiries only)
White Ribbon Australia is an organisation dedicated to ending gendered violence or violence against women and girls. The Australian chapter is part of a global advocacy movement that promotes gender equality. With a prevention-focused approach and advocacy programs in communities, schools and workplaces, White Ribbon engages men and boys to become active in ending violence against women and children.
White Ribbon is not a crisis helpline but a general self-help and e-learning resource for individuals who want to become an advocate in their own community, school or workplace. It is also a great place to find the latest studies and learn more about gendered violence. The website has in-depth, evidence-based research on violence against women and prevention strategies.
Link to website: White Ribbon Australia
Contact phone number: +61 8 6370 0600 (corporate)
DV Connect is a 24-hour domestic violence helpline for Queenslanders who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault. It is one of the five nonprofit partners working with 1800RESPECT. DV Connect is a brilliant helpline for people who are more comfortable talking with someone of the same gender, as they provide separate crisis counselling for women (Womensline) and men (Mensline).
DV Connect also provides sexual assault counselling through the Queensland Sexual Assault Helpline, trauma counselling via 1800RESPECT, and domestic and sexual violence education through Workplace Training. If you need temporary accommodation, DV Connect operates medium-term safe housing for women and children after leaving a shelter.
Link to website: DV Connect
Contact phone number: 1800 811 811
FINANCIAL HARDSHIP SUPPORT FOR SINGLE PARENTS
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SERVICES
When it comes to financial hardship support, there is a huge range of Australian government services available to support single mothers. These include but are not limited to:
- Single parenting payment
- Family tax benefits
- Child care subsidy
- Income support payment
You can check your eligibility for family tax benefit or any of the above via the Department of Human Services website (link below). For a more detailed explanation of what you could be eligible for see: What benefits am I entitled to as a single mum.
Understanding and registering for Child Support may also be an option. See this article which explains how child support works: The essential guide to child support for newly separated families.
DSS GRANT SERVICES DIRECTORY
The Department of Social Services (DSS) provides critical services to families, children, seniors, and vulnerable people and communities. Current DSS grant programs are available for families and communities, housing and homelessness, and disability, mental health and carers. You can apply for a grant on the “Funding Open for Application” page.
To see a detailed list of all active grants and organisations providing services in your area, visit the DSS Grant Services Directory page. Many organisations are not providing face-to-face assistance due to COVID-19, but you can still reach almost all of them by phone or online. Immediate emergency relief services are available especially for people affected by the pandemic.
Link to website: DSS Grant Services Directory
Contact phone number: 1300 653 227
NATIONAL DEBT HELPLINE
The National Debt Helpline is a nonprofit service that helps people in financial trouble handle debt and get back on track. Free and confidential financial counselling is available Monday to Friday during business hours. Their counsellors are all qualified professionals working in community organisations across the nation. If you prefer the self-help route, the website has e-learning materials about handling debt one step at a time.
Whether you are struggling with a massive credit card bill, having difficulty paying rent or suffering from other financial hardship, the National Debt Helpline is the best place to start. They even help out with complex issues like family violence, natural disasters and economic abuse.
Listen to this chat with the National Debt Helpline in the Beanstalk Single Mums Podcast: Dealing with debt and getting your finances back on track.
Link to website: National Debt Helpline
Contact phone number: 1800 007 007
FOOD BANK WEBSITE
Australia’s largest food relief organisation served over 77 million meals in the last year alone. The Food Bank is the pantry to the charity sector, sourcing surplus food and groceries for people in need. They work with farmers and growers, manufacturers, supermarkets, wholesalers, charity partners, schools and transport providers to bring food to vulnerable people and communities. The Food Bank is also involved in natural disaster relief, research, and advocacy.
While they don’t give food directly to individuals, you can get help by contacting food relief organisations in your area. You can also use Ask Izzy website or visit the Foodbank website in your state to find links to local food aid services that serve families and individuals.
Link to website: Food Bank
Contact phone number: 02 9887 4144
FINANCIAL SEPARATION SUPPORT
Provided by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Moneysmart is the government’s financial literacy website that helps Australians take control of their money. On the Moneysmart website you’ll find free tools, tips and guidance to get a grip on your situation if you feel stressed and overwhelmed by money problems.
Moneysmart encourages people to save, prepare for retirement and become a more informed user of financial products and services. They provide specialist support and resources for teachers including accredited professional learning courses. If you are recently separated or divorced, make sure to visit their financial checklist page to help you organise finances after a breakup.
Listen to this chat with MoneySmart on the Beanstalk Single Mums Podcast: Single mum budgeting – Why, how and the tools to use.
Link to website: Moneysmart
Contact phone number: 1300 300 630 (ASIC contact centre)
DIVIDE FINANCIAL SEPARATION
It is a common misconception that you need to engage lawyers for your financial separation. But there is another way!
Divide are specialised Chartered Accountants offering solution-driven advice, tailored to each individual financial separation. Their mission is to find the very best and most cost-effective outcome for both parties in a non-aggressive space, without using lawyers.
The main benefits of using this service are:
- You will make informed decisions supported by the highest level of financial advice available
- The process will be an amicable team effort allowing both parties to be heard
- You will pave the way for a successful co-parenting relationship, which in turn means happier children
Link to website: Divide – Simple Financial Separation
Contact phone number: 07 3367 5380 (Book a free chat)
FAMILY COURT OF AUSTRALIA WEBSITE
The Family Court of Australia website is an excellent place to start if you are going through a divorce or separation and need legal advice. Their website is packed with information about family law, forms, fees and links to helpful contacts. The Family Court handles more complex legal family disputes such as parenting cases involving abuse, violence, mental health and international relocation. They also deal with financial cases involving multiple parties and complex superannuation problems.
If you are recently separated or divorced, check out their page on property and finances after separation. It covers the various ways assets and debts are divided after a breakup, how a court decides the division and time limits for application for property adjustment.
Link to website: Family Court of Australia
Contact phone number: 1300 352 000 (except WA)
LEGAL AND MEDIATION SUPPORT
Relationships Australia is a group of organisations providing family relationship services across the country. Their services include family and relationship courses and professional training and development. For counsellors, service workers and similar professionals, Relationships Australia provides training and development programs for specialist counselling, mediation and management skills.
If you are having relationship difficulties, are recently separated or divorced, starting a new relationship or simply want to make your relationships stronger, free courses are available on relationship skills, parenting, family violence, separation and more. Visit their website or call the agency to find out about courses and services near you.
Listen to this chat with Relationships Australia on the Beanstalk Single Mums Podcast: Your step-by-step guide to mediation.
Link to website: Relationships Australia
Contact phone number: 1300 364 277
NEW WAY LAWYERS
When it comes to finding good representatives for your family law case, not all law firms are equal.
New Way Lawyers are Australia’s first non profit law firm. They are committed to providing the best quality legal advice at an affordable price. Working with clients across Australia, they have 14 lawyers who practice exclusively in family and estate law, and have helped over 3,500 clients since 2009. In addition, they have a strong focus on helping you through every aspect of your separation and provide additional support and encouragement through an excellent client care program.
Link to website: New Way Lawyers
Contact phone number: 07 3548 5868 (Book a free chat)
Legal Aid helps financially disadvantaged Australians with criminal, family and civil law issues. Their services cover parenting orders, property, family dispute resolution, child support/maintenance disputes and spousal maintenance disputes. Grants are made possible with funding from the Australian government.
As much as possible, the agency focuses on non-litigious dispute resolution and counselling. They also prioritise grant aid for high-risk children or spouses. If you are in the middle of a high-conflict separation (or any family, civil or criminal difficulty) and can’t afford a lawyer, contact Legal Aid to find out what options are available to you.
Link to website: Legal Aid
Contact phone number: 1300 65 11 88
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCE SPACES
Lifeline is a 24-hour crisis hotline that provides short-term support for people feeling overwhelmed and having trouble coping and staying safe. This is the number to call for people in their darkest hours and for those who are worried about their loved ones experiencing emotional distress.
A trained Lifeline supporter gives confidential one-on-one support to people who call. They provide a safe space and listen without judgment so you can freely discuss your concerns. Many people need long-term support, and they will work with you to explore options like connecting you with counsellors, medical and legal professionals, law enforcement and other agencies that can help.
Listen to this chat with Lifeline on the Beanstalk Single Mums Podcast: Feeling down as a single parent? There is help out there.
Link to website: Lifeline
Contact phone number: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue is a nonprofit dedicated to providing mental health support and services to people affected by anxiety, depression and suicide. According to their website, they are the most visited mental health organisation in the country. Beyond Blue operates a 24-hour advice and support helpline focused specifically on mental health issues.
The Beyond Blue website is an excellent way to learn about mental health, coping and prevention strategies, and people/agencies to contact if you need more help. Information is organized by demographic to make it easy to find what you need whether you are a single mum, teenager, LGBTI or older adult.
Link to website: Beyond Blue
Contact phone number: 1300 22 4636
BLACK DOG INSTITUTE
The Black Dog Institute is a nonprofit research institute focused on mental health and well-being for all ages. They provide tools and apps, clinical services, education programs, research studies and other services to improve mental health for everyone.
While Black Dog is not a crisis centre, their website is a great place to start if you want to keep up with the latest research in the mental health space, from mood disorder treatments to suicide prevention strategies. They also connect you with support groups around the country and provide clinical referrals if you need long-term support for depression, anxiety, mood disorders and other mental health issues.
Link to website: Black Dog Institute
Contact phone number: (02) 9382 2991 (clinic)
SOCIAL SUPPORT GROUPS FOR SINGLE MOTHERS
SINGLE MUM VINE
The Single Mum Vine is a closed Facebook group which is entirely different to all other single mum spaces. It is an offshoot of this website you are on. We focus on the GOOD parts about being single mums and post to inspire and make others laugh and feel good about themselves.
Contact phone number: NA
Meetup is a place to meet like-minded people and get or receive support, whether you are a single mum who feels isolated or someone who likes to join local events for the things you love. Meet people in your area for playdates, working out, exploring, talking shop—the list is endless. You can also create a group of your own.
It’s easy to sign up. Choose what you are into, search by city to find an event or group near you, and join. Note that many people are still confined to their homes due to COVID, so you may want to check out online meetups if you can’t get out of the house. Regular social interaction, even if its online, can do wonders for your mental health.
Link to website: Meetup
Contact phone number: Follow on social media to connect.
POSITIVE PARENTING PROGRAM (TRIPLE P)
The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) is a national program helping parents raise happy kids and build better relationships through positive parenting strategies. Triple P is the largest evidence-based parenting program and is proven to work for families regardless of culture or situation. Contact your local child health centre to join a Triple P group or arrange for one-on-one support.
The Triple P online course (free in QLD) is recommended for parents of toddlers to tweens. It has everything you need to raise confident, successful kids, including parenting techniques for all kinds of situations, with tips for parenting during COVID-19. The course consists of videos, worksheets, activities, podcasts and other online learning resources.
Listen to this chat with Triple P on the Beanstalk Single Mums Podcast: How to raise happy, resilient, confident children.
Link to website: Triple P
Contact phone number: 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
Parentline is a service for anyone who needs help with a parenting issue or just someone to talk to. Parentline offers free counselling and support for parents, grandparents and carers living in Queensland and the Northern Territory. They help parents of children of all ages, with a focus on parents of children ages 0 to 8.
Parentline is open seven days a week from 8am to 10pm. People who call are connected with a counsellor right away. If the line is busy, you can leave a short message and your phone number so they can return your call. You can ask to speak with the same counsellor and even choose the gender of the counsellor you want to speak to.
Link to website: Parentline
Contact phone number: 1300 30 1300