McArthur, M. & Winkworth, G. (2013). The hopes and dreams of Australian young mothers in receipt of income support. Communities, Children and Families Australia,(1), 47-62.
The previous Rudd/Gillard Australian Governments adopted measures specifically designed to more actively combat 'intergenerational welfare dependence'. Building on the previous emphasis on social inclusion, a range of measures were introduced that specifically target or affect young parents, including measures that require teenage parents to undertake compulsory activities once their child is one year old; and moving single parents off parenting payments once their youngest child turns eight. In doing so, single and partnered families that are not in the workforce have been singled out as requiring change in their personal behaviour. This paper reports on qualitative research, commissioned by the Australian Government in 2010, which explored the experiences of young mothers in receipt of income support. It found that the hopes and dreams of these young mothers were entirely consistent with key policy outcomes for children and families. However, the achievement of these hopes and dreams is hampered by stigma, lack of access to resources, networks and social support, and the everyday realities of caring for very young children. The study's findings suggest that policy directions which further stigmatise young mothers may undermine their willingness to engage with the formal and informal support systems which could otherwise assist them.
Institute of Child Protection Studies
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