Many young parents in the Mallee region have the same dreams as people who start their families later in life.
New research for the Murray Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network (MMLLEN) has found they want to undertake study or training, be a good parent and to work. However they face three main barriers to achieving those goals: the cost and availability of childcare, problems with shared housing or obtaining a rental property and access to transport – especially for those without a driver’s license.
As part of the Aspirations of Young Parents Research Project , young parents, youth service providers and school wellbeing staff were interviewed over a three-month period in 2013. The 24-page report concludes the findings cannot be applied to all young parents, because of the small sample size. Instead, it should be considered a snapshot of 20 young mums who’d had their first child between the ages of 15 and 19 and were living in Kerang, Nyah West, Piangil and Swan Hill.
At the time of writing the report current data on teenage birth rates in the region was unavailable. In 2008, the Swan Hill local government area recorded Victoria’s highest teen birthrate of 29.2 per 1000 women aged 15 to 19. At the same time the teen birthrate in the Gannawarra local government area was 25.1 per 1000.
The study found 65 per cent of the group had not completed Year 12 and none were working, but 60 per cent were taking part in study or training. The stigma associated with being a “young mum” was listed by 15 per cent of the women as an extra hurdle when it came to applying for rental accommodation or getting a job.
More than 80 per cent identified the dreams they’d had for the future before they became mothers and 41 per cent said those dreams had not changed. One-fifth said there was nothing stopping them from achieving their goals.
The report contains seven recommendations aimed at developing a strategy to improve the ability of young parents to study, learn how to drive, get a job, keep a job and gain household budgeting skills.
The Aspirations of Young Parents Research Project steering committee included Sunraysia Institute of TAFE, Sunraysia Murray Group Training – Youth Connections Program, Swan Hill College and Swan Hill Neighbourhood House.