The Young Parents Connect – a very successful program at Ipswich State High School – allows teenage mums to bring their babies to class. Principal Simon Riley says their school can’t cope with demand and that’s because other schools in the area ‘kick them out’. He also says he could not offer the program in this state-funded school without funding by Mission Australia.
Some students travel 3 hours on public transport from regional areas to get to the program each day. Most are too young to drive. The Principal says this is discriminatory. We agree.
The former Human Rights Commission for Children, Megan Mitchell points out:
Teenage pregnancy is at an historic low, but there’s still around 8,000 babies born to teen mothers every year. Young parents are also at high risk of health and mental health issues, and their children are more likely to be born at a low birth weight, preterm and have cognitive and behavioural issues.
It’s good that it’s going down, but we need to be working hard to support young parents who are struggling.
Ms Mitchell said preventing unplanned teenage pregnancies is also vital.
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Sophie Bettles hopes to work in child care when she is finished school.
ABC News, photo: Anna Hartley