Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Report provides important insights into Growing Up in Australia

New research funded by the Australian Government has found that children in jobless families experience significantly worse outcomes in learning and cognitive development, social and emotional functioning, and physical development.

Growing Up in Australia: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children – Annual Statistical report 2010,found the longer parents were out of work, the poorer children’s outcomes were likely to be.

Since 2004, the study has been following the development of 10,000 children and families across Australia, providing valuable insights into how a child’s social, economic and cultural environments contribute to their wellbeing.

The evidence clearly shows us that where parents don’t work, children have poorer outcomes than children whose parents are employed.

The study found that jobless parents mostly live in disadvantaged areas and on most indicators have higher odds of poor parenting.

I don’t think it is acceptable or fair for children to grow up in a home where they have never seen their parents work.

That’s why the Government introduced new initiatives in the Budget to help families with young children in disadvantaged communities build their parenting skills, gain an education and participate in work.

The Government’s reforms balance new opportunities with new responsibilities.

From 1 July 2012, parents who have been on income support for more than two years will be required to meet regularly with Centrelink to plan for their return to work. This requirement will also apply to parents under the age of 23 who are not currently working or studying full time.

We are also assisting single parents into work through the introduction of a more generous income test for single parents on Newstart Allowance with school age children, to better support part time work.

The report also studies experiences of childcare, experiences over time living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, as well as looking at behavioural problems and competencies.

Other areas covered include children’s language development, health experiences and a focus on the family educational environment, such as how often a child is read to and how much time is spent watching television.

This new research tells us how Australian children are faring so we can make sure that all children are healthy, happy and learning.

Early developmental outcomes are important precursors for a child’s outcomes in later childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and giving all children the best possible start at life is at the heart of this Government’s reform agenda.

A copy of the report is available at