Teenage mothers are going to be running the gauntlet in trying to keep food on the table, with the government announcing new welfare reforms for young parents. Once their child is 6 months old, they will be expected to attend Centrelink interviews once a week and will be forced into compulsory education or work training after their child turns one.
“It’s not a question of punishment, it’s a question of providing opportunity.” says Wayne Swan, Treasurer.
And with that comment, my blood pressure starts to rise and I’m not sure if I should yell about things, or cry at the stupidity.
I had Amy when I was 17, so I have a vested interest in teenage mothers and the help provided for them. I also know how hard parenting is, regardless of age and I’m not sure a policy that seeks to make life harder for a minority of parents is, in any way, a helpful thing.
Centrelink interviews are time consuming. You sit in a waiting room for an hour, waiting to be seen by someone who only knows you as a case file number. Add in a 6 month old child, who may or may not be an “easy” baby and a stressed mother, who may or may not have had any sleep and it feels like a recipe for disaster. I couldn’t find the time to shower and eat when Amy was a baby, let alone lug everything into the city and spend half a day waiting to have my name ticked off, so that money would continue to trickle in. And believe me, Centrelink is a trickle, it’s not a flood of cash, or an easy life.
I’m curious as to why, you can leave school at 16, but now, if you have a baby as a teenager, once your child is one, you will be forced back into schooling, or certificate level training.
Sure, it all looks great on paper, but who is looking after the toddler while Mummy is forced out of the house?
I see that 100% of the childcare costs will be covered by the federal government. Do they really feel that is it better to force young mothers to give the care of their child over to “professionals” while they “better themselves”? We’ll leave aside the issues of finding decent childcare to begin with.
And I’m sorry, but at any age, parenting is IMPORTANT. Kids need parents who are around. Childcare workers, while lovely, are not the same as Mummy and Daddy.
I know you’re going to argue with me that “These kids having kids, they need help and prospects” and I’ll agree there. They DO need help and they DO need support.
BUT – this is not the way to do it.
It feels like punishment for young women daring to fall pregnant.
You know what we need? Sex education in schools. Free contraception. Discussion and advice.
We do not need to make mothers feel like second class citizens, no matter their age.
This is hearkening back to the 70’s, when unwed teenage mothers were put in homes until their baby was born. Then the mother was forced to give her baby up for adoption and life went on as normal for everyone else.
I am angry, I am so so angry. Beating teenage mothers with a stick is not the answer to the problem.
Did anyone in the government think to speak to a teenage mother and find out what hardships she is facing and how it could be made easier for her? No?
How about I put my hand up.
Dear Labor Government: I would be more than happy to meet with you and discuss the real issues facing teenage mothers, so that you can have an insight into Real Life and not life as it’s written on paper.