Your opinion?

What do you think of this idea? 

In Australia we have around 11,000 teenage parents who are receiving a parenting (welfare) payment from the government to support themselves and their child.  Most of these (6,800) are single parents (and mostly young girls). From next year, all teenage parents receiving a parenting payment will, once their child turns one, return to school or further education or have their payment suspended.  The government will assist with childcare payments.  This will be compulsory.

They will no longer be able to remain at home full time caring for their son or daughter unless they undertake homeschooling (not that this has been mentioned as an option). They are currently not required to look for work until their youngest child turns six.

Whilst I agree that teenage mums (or dads) should complete their education - many are going to have to place their child into care (eg a childcare centre) while they are attending school. There are very few schools in Australia that provide a childcare service to teenage parents so many parents will need to place their child away from the school and will not be able to have regular contact with their 12 month old during the day. This may cause problems for those with limited transport options. Whilst most other mothers have some choice about staying at home or working/studying, this will be completely removed from this very vulnerable group.  A group that probably needs the most assistance's (and care) when it comes to being a mother.

The Labor Government refers to this as "tough love".  I am sure if the Government thought harder about this they could have come up with a mother/father friendly option.

What is your views?



  1. We have enough trouble with parents not being able to spend time with their children because of work demands - isn't this going to cause problems for parents who are already immature to begin with? While I don't think it's a good idea for a teenager to have a child to begin with (maybe other kinds of things need to be put into place by the govt to prevent these pregnancies to begin with??), and I don't think it's a good idea for a teenager who is a single parent to use being a parent as an excuse to never progress in life - BUT we are not just talking about the teenagers here! What about those babies???? Will the teenagers find it easier to drop the children off at a childcare and not have to worry about raising them - ie. will it cause them to be more slack with their parenting because they don't have the ability/maturity to multi-task and be good at both studying AND parenting? (older parents have a lot of trouble doing this even when they have a bit of maturity on their side!)
    This kind of law raises a lot of questions, and doesn't give many answers at all - at least not good ones. The govt should be encouraging mothers to stay at home with their children so children have a more stable home life, as in the long term that will produce FAR better results in all areas of life, in my opinon.

  2. Great response Clara...

    I have been a little worried about the implications of this new "idea" from our feminist Prime Minister...

    I have been thinking the same as you Jo, just will have to see what happens when it comes in.

    Due to circumstances not in my control, my youngest daughter was a pregnant teen. She doesn't rely on the Centrelink system though. She is engaged to her partner and father of her child and works part time now. My grandson has just turned 7 years old, and my daughter has plenty of family that care for him when she works. He has never been to childcare!

    I stayed home and looked after my children, and to this day I am still most comfortable being at home. I only have a 15yo here now, and he has never been in childcare either, in my opinion, that is a Mother's job...

    I heard on the radio yesterday that teenage pregnancies have dropped significantly in the last five years!


    PS. I think there are those out there that do have babies just for the money though.

  3. I was very concerned when I heard this news. Despite being 'teenage' parents (and the associated stigma of being irresponsible) I think most will truly love and care for their child - after all, they made the decision to keep the baby and not have an abortion! But I don't think our PM, who has no children herself, can understand the heartache this 'tough love' decision will cause to young mums and their babies. I couldn't have left my 1 year old(s) in full time care.

    No, there has to be a better way to (1) encourage young parents to finish their education and (2) save money. Much better, I think, to target the long-term unemployed - perhaps they should be the ones who are made to do more training?

  4. Tania - you are quite right, the age-specific fertility rate for young mums has been declining (under 20). In 1989 it was 20.6babies per 1,000 and now it is 16.7 per 1,000. This is very positive.

    A young mum of 15 needs to be shown all the parenting skills she can get - the government needs to find a better what to educate her both for caring for her baby plus give her an education. Seperating her from her baby is not the way to go.

  5. Clara - that is the problem, dumping the baby into childcare is not a positive mothering skill and these girls need all the help they can get. The child seems to be forgotten in this policy. Of course mum is very important - but she is now a package of 2 and that needs to be considered.

    For some girls, just getting care will be difficult as there are long waiting lists in some areas and transport getting to the centre will be difficult if they don’t have a car. To me this is all ill-thought out.

  6. I have a very simple philosophy: babies need their mums. Their mums, not a nanny & not a child care worker. Probably not cause & effect but there has been a significant rise in youth crime since more mums began working outside the home. Oh, & has it occured to anyone besides me that the age when they are suggesting mother & child seperate is about the time a baby's seperation anxiety peaks. Great move from our childless PM!

  7. I do not like the idea of child care centres raising our children. This may be a bit strong but in my opinion a person who has a child should also have the responsibility, for better or for worse.

    Child care workers, like teachers, are being asked to take on too much and they are shaping our future as a country when they "raise" our children.

    Encourage marriage, encourage young fathers to stay in school and get a higher education if not working, but leave mums of any age at home raising children where they belong.

    Best wishes
    Jen in NSW

  8. Jo, I have been thinking about this overnight and the big problem I see with this policy is that it isn't preventing teen pregnancy, just taking mothers away from their children.

    I would like to see the government change it's policy on the Single Parenting Payment. I think that it shouldn't be given to teens who have children when they are younger than the age of 17 (which is also the age we expect them to stay in education unless employed). I think they should get only the FTB part that actually relates to the child. That would be about $160/fn. Not enough to support an unemployed mum but hopefully enough to pay for things for the child. There would then be an expectation that the teen would continue school or get work to support themselves while family looked after the baby. And no baby bonus unless both parents have been working or studying full time in the previous 12 months. I think these teens need to "earn" their free ride.

    Hopefully though if the "incentive" to be a young mum was only $160/fn then teens would be a whole lot more careful and not even get pregnant. We could hope and pray.

    Just an idea,
    Jen in NSW

  9. Jen, it is a really complex issue which is why I don't think the government has really thought this through. Separating mums and bubs isn't the answer, but the need to educate these girls is really important. Very difficult one so I am glad I am not trying to create the policies. Like you I have also been pondering it. Unfortunately our current government jumps to these quick ideas without thinking "outside" of the box for more long term solutions.

    Not to be cynical, it's trying to grab votes!

    Have a great weekend and happy mothers day:)

  10. This is such a difficult topic to discuss isn't it! I think I know why the government is doing this but as Clara mentioned I think they would be better off trying to educate teenage girls in order to stop them getting pregnant in the first place. I think that would be a better option in my opinion. btw, did you see the article recently about the accidents in child care centres, I've always suspected that to be the case and the article confirmed my suspicions. It was by the Sydney Morning Herald but you may have read it because of your job?

  11. Joyfulmum - yes I did see the article and was very surprised by the high number of accidents - and it is very concerning for any parents with children in care.


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