$47.1m to be spent on teen parents
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says she will prioritise education in next week’s Federal Budget when announcing support for teen parents to continue with their schooling.
The Federal Government will invest $47.1 million over four years to trial its teen parent plan in 10 disadvantaged communities around the country from January 1, 2012.
“You make choices in a budget and we’ve made choices to prioritise education and opportunity for Australians,” Ms Gillard told reporters in western Sydney on Thursday.
Teenage parents’ social security payments, worth up to $625 a fortnight, will be cut if they don’t go back to school to finish Year 12 when their baby turns one.
They will have to attend meetings at Centrelink six months after their baby is born to prepare them to resume school.
Currently, parents don’t have to look for work until their child turns six.
Participants in the scheme will receive extra support to cover most of the cost of childcare and parenting education classes.
Ms Gillard said if eligible parents refused to participate in the scheme without good reason then their welfare benefits would be suspended.
“But that’s not what this is about,” she said.
“This is about engaging parents so they have a better life and their child has a better life.
“Yes, there’s compulsion, there’s responsibility, but there is opportunity at the centre of this measure.”