Release type: Joint Media Release

Date:

New support for teenage parents and jobless families

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

Teenage and jobless parents will have new opportunities to complete their school education and enter the workforce as a result of measures being introduced by the Gillard Government.

The Gillard Government will launch Teenage Parent and Jobless Families trials next year after legislation passed through the House of Representatives last night.

Minister for Jobs, Senator Chris Evans, said the trials would start in 10 disadvantaged locations around Australia to help teenage and jobless parents on parenting payments finish their education and join the workforce.

“This is an important initiative that aims to support and engage parents by providing a range of services to overcome barriers to education, training or work and to give their children a positive start in life,” Senator Evans said.

“Teenage parents will be strongly encouraged to achieve a Year 12 or equivalent standard education and will be supported to ensure their children are ready for school, both socially and academically.”

In the 10 communities from January 1, teenage parents who receive Parenting Payment will receive support to attend regular appointments with Centrelink and enter into a Participation Plan.

Parents will be supported with training places, child care assistance and employment services in the following locations:

  • Bankstown (NSW);
  • Wyong (NSW);
  • Shellharbour (NSW);
  • Shepparton (Vic);
  • Hume (Vic);
  • Logan (Qld);
  • Rockhampton (Qld);
  • Playford (SA);
  • Burnie (Tas); and
  • Kwinana (WA).

Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin, said having a job is important to giving children the best start in life.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable that children grow up in a household where no one has ever worked,” Ms Macklin said.

“The trial will help parents to build a better future for themselves and their children. It will provide new services, opportunities and responsibilities for families with young children in some of the most disadvantaged locations in the country.

Minister for Human Services, Tanya Plibersek, said the Gillard Government will always provide a safety net for those in need, but wants all Australians to have the opportunity to share in our nation's prosperity.

“The Gillard Government is working hard to address disadvantage in our communities by targeting assistance at those who need it most,” Ms Plibersek said.

The Jobless Families program will assist parents in the 10 locations who have been on income support for more than two years and not working or studying full time to plan for their return to work.

Participants will be required to meet with Centrelink regularly to attend interviews and workshops with specially trained staff who will help them get ready for work by encouraging them to set employment goals, providing information on local education and training opportunities and connecting them with local job, child care and early intervention services.

“The focus of the trials is to support parents and their children. To ensure they meet their requirements, participants will have their income support payment suspended if they don’t engage when required without a reasonable excuse,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Any withheld income support will be back-paid in full if they re-engage.”

The Teenage Parent trial starts on 1 January 2012 and the Jobless Families trial begins on 1 July 2012.

 The Government committed $118 million over four years in this year’s Budget to trial the new arrangements in the 10 disadvantaged locations.

 For more information about the Jobless Families and Teenage Parent trials:

http://www.deewr.gov.au/Department/Budget/Pages/1112FactSheets.aspx