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The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC), is today warning that teen parents and their children will be locked into further poverty unless the federal government reverses their plan to cut their welfare payments.
As a Senate inquiry releases their report today on cuts to welfare payments that will see the unemployed single parents forced off their parenting payments when their youngest child turns eight, AYAC says that the vast majority of single teenage parents are keen to get further training and find paid work, but that appropriate work is not always available, and the employment and training support services are failing them.
AYAC Executive Director, Andrew Cummings said, “there is little evidence to suggest that young single parents will be helped to find work by cutting their payments.”
AYAC says that the government’s plan will do little to help young parents find secure employment and that it does nothing to address their real barriers to finding work such as - a lack of affordable childcare, reliable transport, adequate training and mental health support.
“These changes will simply see young parents – who are already at risk of extreme hardship – entrenched further into welfare dependency without much hope of achieving genuine independence,” he said.
21-year-old single mother Holly Elizabeth said, “It gets so overwhelming to be a single mum sometimes and girls I know without support have turned to alcohol and drugs and bad parenting as an escape.”
“And finding jobs in my area is tough, especially when you can’t drive and don’t have a car, and you can’t get time off from work to pick your child up from childcare, or look after them when your child is sick or during school holidays.”
Young parents face a variety of challenges such as – relationship breakdowns with the child’s father, homelessness or insecure housing, social isolation, financial stress, a lack of basic life and work skills, as well as drug and alcohol and mental health issues.
While adequate income support for young single parents is vital, AYAC also warns that there are not enough essential skills and job-readiness support programs that understand the specific needs of young single parents.
There is also an inadequate supply of alternative education programs that cater to young parents, and that have safe and affordable childcare nearby.
“Many young parents have told us that they want to prepare responsibly for their future, but the threat of these cuts are just adding to their frustrations and are not a real incentive to find work, “ Mr Cummings said.
The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) is the national voice for young people and the youth affairs sector. AYAC’s vision is for an Australia in which young people are informed, empowered, encouraged and supported to participate in their communities.
Holly Elizabeth (not her full name) is a 21-year-old single mother with a one-year-old daughter. She is available for interviews.
Media enquiries: Maia Giordano, Deputy Director (Young People), Australian Youth Affairs Coalition P: 02 9212 0500 | M: 0435 496 494
Back in April, AYAC's Natalie Lammas was asked to be featured in a video by a startup online magazine called 'Flying the Coop'. The video interview is centred around youth government assistance programmes and the fact that some of Australia’s youth are living below the poverty line due to our outdated welfare system.
Check out the full video here: http://flyingthecoop.net/2013/05/30/australias-neglected-youth/