Teen Parents to Benefit From Stronger Economy
Canberra, ACT, Australia (News4us.com) May 05, 2011
Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced that the budget will contain new measures to make sure teenage parents and their children aren’t left behind as we benefit from our strong economy.
The new approach will see teenage parents get the support they need to get a good education, finish year 12 and build life skills so they can go on to get a good job.
It will also help these young parents get the parenting skills they need to look after their children so they can also benefit from a better start in life.
The Government will invest $47.1 million over four years to trial this new initiative in ten disadvantaged communities across Australia.
From 1 January 2012, teenage parents living in these trial communities who have not finished Year 12 or equivalent and are receiving Parenting Payment from the Federal Government will need to meet an individually crafted participation plan.
These teen parents will also be given support to help them meet these extra responsibilities and milestones, including:
- Support to access quality child care while they are studying or training with close to 100% of their child care costs covered.
- Support from the Youth Connections services through individualised case management to help them enrol and attend school, TAFE or other training
- Support from Communities for Children services to help teens with their parenting responsibilities through playgroups, parenting education classes, mentoring and support groups as well as early learning programs.
Many teenage parents leave school early without year 12 qualifications, meaning they are more likely to end up as long term welfare recipients, with negative long term consequences for them and their children.
This new package will help them get a better job so they can provide for their kids as they grow older.
This new package builds on the welfare reforms the Gillard Government has already implemented including “Learn or Earn” Youth Participation Requirements, Income Management trials in the Northern Territory and parts of Western Australia and Queensland.
They are a further step in developing a welfare system which works actively to combine opportunity with responsibility, particularly for the vulnerable such as young people and those who are disengaged from the workforce and community.
HOW THE PROGRAM WILL WORK
From 1 January 2012, teenage parents in trial communities receiving Parenting Payment, with a child aged six months or older will be required to attend compulsory support and engagement interviews with Centrelink until they complete Year 12 or equivalent or until their youngest child turns six.
Through this service parents will work with Centrelink to develop a participation plan that includes compulsory activities designed to support them in their parenting role or help them gain a good education.
Teen parents will be required to undertake compulsory activities from when their child is one year old, to give teen parents time to settle into life with their new baby.
The types of activities will be tailored to the parent’s needs as well as the needs and age of the child, so for a teen parent with a young child activities might include attending baby play groups or attending preschool for older children.
Teenage parents will be supported by their Centrelink case worker to ensure they receive the necessary support to meet their obligations.
If they do not engage with Centrelink when required, without a reasonable excuse, they will have their income support payment suspended until they re-engage.
Participants will be back-paid for any withheld income support payments if they re-engage.
The Government will work with community organisations and specialist service providers over the next six months to prepare for implementation of this new initiative.
The communities will be announced in the budget and will be chosen based on a range of factors that measure disadvantage including jobless families, youth unemployment, the level of welfare dependence, and the length of time recipients have been on welfare.
This trial in ten communities will be evaluated over two years in consultation with service providers.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows that teenage birth rates are eight times higher in the most disadvantaged areas than the least disadvantaged.
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