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Opposition pushes for family policy that aims to arrest declining birthrate.

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Media Release

Wayne Swan, MP (Member for Lilley)

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services


20 December 1999


Opposition Pushes For Family Policy That Aims To Arrest Declining Birthrate

The Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Wayn e Swan, has called as a matter of urgency for a modern national family policy that addresses our declining birthrate.

In an article* in the latest edition of the Australian Institute of Family Studies journal Family Matters, Mr Swan argues for a national family policy that includes a commitment to stabilising the birthrate.

"Family policy is not just about providing material support to families; it is about creating the sort of environment that eases pressures that make parents think twice about starting a family or having more children," Mr Swan said.

"We all know our population is rapidly ageing, and creating the type of environment that allows parents to make a free choice about having children is essential."

Mr Swan warned that if Australia's declining birth rate is not stabilised families would continue to decline in importance and over time society would become less sensitive to the needs of children.

"The number of babies born each year has been declining since 1991 and now stands at 252,000, the same as it was eight years ago."

Mr Swan said that the Howard Government's policies have contributed to the declining birthrate because they have raised the costs of having children.

"The current Federal Government has put enormous pressure on family budgets by cutting child care and school funding and then introducing a new tax on all the items that families buy.

"We also need to pay particular attention to the rising number of children being raised in low income and single parent families and find ways to help parents balance work and family."

Mr Swan said that the Federal Government needed to show leadership on family policy by investing in programs to help young families, as well as improving the interaction between the tax and social security systems to reduce the poverty traps that are a lead weight for families that would like to get ahead.

"There should be a focus on parenting skills in the home and an effort to get children into stimulating programs in the community at an early age.

"We also need an active welfare system that lifts people up, rather than keeping them down. We need labour market assistance targeted to families that can address health and welfare needs at the same time and we also need to consider pooling the resources that governments provide to disadvantaged areas," Mr Swan said.

*'Is the Australian family becoming an endangered species?' may be found at (new window).



jy  1999-12-21  12:34