Media Response to National Population Statement

January 5, 2023

Teen pregnancy and parenting in Australia has declined in line with the national fertility rate during the early stages of the pandemic. Yet birth rates to young parents (aged 19 years and under) are continuing to increase in a number of rural and regional areas of Australia.

The Annual Population Statement, to be released in full on Friday, expects the overall national fertility rate to continue to fall. However, current data for births to young parents indicates this trend will not be reflected across all areas of Australia. In communities that are already experiencing disadvantage, the birth rate for young parents is likely to remain the same or, in some cases, increase.

Young mothers are one of Australia’s most disadvantaged groups and the relative disadvantage has increased over time. They are more likely to rely on income support payments, have lower levels of education and are less likely to be partnered by the time they reach their 30s than women who were not young mothers.

Young parents are also likely to experience more entrenched barriers to work and/or study in addition to the challenges of raising a child.

Brave Foundation Chief Executive Officer Jill Roche said the data demonstrated that more resources were needed to support young parents to fulfill their goals and lessen the likelihood of long-term reliance on welfare to survive.

“At Brave Foundation we know that young parents are tenacious and resilient and can achieve the goals they set for themselves when they have the right support in place.”

“The predictions in the annual population statement pose a major risk for workforce shortages and so it is particularly important that young parents are supported to reach their potential.”

“We mentor young parents across the country, many of whom are pursuing careers in aged care and early childhood education. The fact that young parents are choosing to prioritise training to work in these fields just shows how committed young people are to contributing to their own community.”

“Young parents know better than most how important it is to have a village of support around you at a time of need, and this is reflected in the choices we see them making when thinking about school, training and work.”

Brave Foundation recently submitted a response to the Federal Government’s Inquiry into Workforce Australia Employment Services specifically providing recommendations relating to the ParentsNext program. The submission calls for long-term sustainable resourcing to support Brave’s Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teen program, for age limits relating to parenting payments to be extended and include the pregnancy period and for any parenting support programs to be voluntary.

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