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Young Parents Considered in Workforce Australia Employment Services Interim Report
March 2, 2023
Brave Foundation is encouraged that young parents’ voices were heard and considered in the Workforce Australia Committee’s interim report.
“I am glad that young parents, particularly teens, have been specifically identified as needing more intentional and bespoke support because they carry a complex load of responsibility at a critical time in their lives – when they are both developing themselves and raising their children,” Brave CEO Jill Roche said.
The interim report’s recommendation (released this week) to design and implement a specific service for teenage and young parents was welcomed by Brave.
This follows a submission by Brave to the inquiry in late 2022 and appearance by CEO Jill Roche at a public hearing in January. Brave was pleased to note points it raised during this engagement process in the report.
Ms. Roche said the recommendations were a positive start to ensuring all Australian parents, including young parents, First Nation families and those from diverse backgrounds, receive the support they need, particularly during times of increased vulnerability.
“It is so important that the rights of young parents are observed, and their voices heard. We were proud to be able to amplify these voices at the parliamentary inquiry and are encouraged that this was heard by the committee, as evidenced by the comments and recommendations in the interim report.”
“A co-designed program is recommended in the report, however directly drawing in the contributions, ideas and voices of those with lived and living experience should be non-negotiable. I believe Brave is in a position, through a careful process of consultation, to be able to support the inclusion of teen parents in any future program design.”
Ms. Roche said the value placed on the role of caring was a critically important call out in the report.
“We were particularly pleased by the report acknowledging the value of the role of parenting and a parent’s right to choose to actively parent their children. This is especially heartening to young parents who face judgment and stigma in relation to their role as a parent.”
The most welcome of the Committee’s recommendations are:
- a specific program focused on young and teenage parents should focus on helping young and teenage parents’ complete studies and improve long-term prospects for themselves and their children
- prioritise quality service delivery over quantity of delivery
- recognition that support programs (such as Brave’s Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens program) can satisfy compliance requirements
- any changes considered to ParentsNext when designing Your Future Planning should be informed by the lived experience of young parents
- immediate changes should be made to remove ‘unreasonably harsh compliance’
- participation be fully voluntary when a parent’s youngest child is under three
Brave also echoes the Committee’s recommendation that significant changes are made immediately, on an interim basis, to the current ParentsNext program to address the serious concerns outlined in the report for a narrow group of parents – with young parents being prioritized.
This may include young parents with children under the age of three provided the option to immediately exit ParentsNext or be referred to age-appropriate services such as Brave’s Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens program.
While the initial recommendations are promising, there is opportunity for continued discussion in a number of areas, including:
- clarification for organisations, like Brave, that are actively working in communities with young parents who will be affected by whether and when recommendations are adopted
- recognising the need to support the parent holistically, not solely as a job seeker, to strengthen capacity and create stability across all dimensions of a parent and child’s life, particularly in the early years
- consideration for support for young parents during pregnancy
“We are hopeful there will be opportunity to go even further and think about what happens in the earliest of the first 1000 days, where teenagers are pregnant and potentially having to navigate school, work and health appointments while preparing for the impending arrival of their baby.”