This article analyses single mothers’ experiences of Australia’s child support bureaucracy, shifting the focus beyond problematic individual interactions to the discourses that shape them. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews with 37 Australian single mothers, I argue that women’s interactions with Department of Human Services – Child Support (DHS-CS) are expressions of gender-focused micro-aggressions. These are interactions that express and reinforce social hierarchies and power differentials in sometimes subtle and often taken-for-granted ways. I argue these interactions are structured by the dominant gendered welfare discourse that constitutes the welfare mother and legitimates masculine financial discretion. Thus, any attempt to address client concerns about the failings of DHS-CS, and by extension other government bureaucracies, must extend beyond ‘training’ and administrative processes, and engage with the more challenging strategies of socio-cultural change.