Participants have questioned the Federal Government's ParentsNext program, saying it is making life harder.

ParentsNext puts parents on a participation plan that sets out mandatory activities and appointments they must attend in order to collect their Centrelink payments.

The plans differ depending on the parent, but can require participants to work 20 hours a fortnight and complete a list of compulsory activities with their children such as story time at local libraries or swimming lessons.

The requirements have been described as “humiliating”.

Labor and the Greens have launched an inquiry, with terms of reference including examining the “aims of ParentsNext and the extent to which those aims are appropriate, having regard to the interests of participating parents, their children, and the community”.

The Senate inquiry should report by the end of March.

The Government says there is evidence that ParentsNext is meeting its goals.

“The Government doesn't want people and their families consigned to a life of welfare,” Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations Kelly O'Dwyer said in a statement.

“Whether it's through education and training, work readiness activities, or other assistance, ParentsNext helps parents with the assistance they need to get back into the workforce once their youngest child turns six years of age.

“An evaluation of ParentsNext has shown overall positive results.”