MULTIPLE BIRTH FAMILIES DESERVE MORE SUPPORT IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET: AUSTRALIAN MULTIPLE BIRTH ASSOCIATION
Media Contact—Silje Andersen-Cooke 0406 793 026
Thursday 11 May 2023
The Australian Multiple Birth Association welcomes progress towards supporting families and single parents in this year's budget but is disappointed the Federal Government has missed opportunities to provide support to multiple birth families.
Research conducted by PerCapita in our recent report, ‘Multiples Matter’, showed that the costs of twins and higher order multiples were almost 5 times and 13 times, respectively, higher than those of a singleton up to the age of one. 1
Yet in Australia, twins are considered no different to a family who has given birth to one child at a time. In Australia, families with multiples receive no additional support, notwithstanding the modest Multiple Birth Allowance afforded to higher order multiples and subject to rigid means testing.
Australia is ranked second last of over 47 OECD countries when it comes to support for additional multiple birth families. 2 For comparison:
- Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Japan, Norway, Denmark, France, Chile, Belgium and many more countries additional parental leave is provided to families with twins or triplets and higher order multiples; and
- in New Zealand there is a government funded program that provides financial assistance to families of multiples for home help services such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry;
Multiple birth families have been left behind in Australia. Currently, Government policy essentially treats twins the same as if you have had one child and they are currently not recognised by Centrelink as being a multiple birth.
The Australian Multiple Birth Association is calling on the Federal Government to finally recognise the increased challenges faced and support required by parents with twins and triplets or more. The current Government payments to Australian families with multiples account for less than 7% of the differential costs.
The Australian Multiple Birth Association’s key asks of the Federal Government are:
- A multiple birth grant or one off payment to parents with twins, triplets or more;
- Increased parental leave for parents of twins, triplets or more;
- An in-home domestic support program that parents of twins, triplets or more can access in the first 1-2 years;
- Paid neonatal leave for parents who have premature babies in the hospital; and
- Extending the Multiple Birth Allowance to twins as well as higher order multiples (triplets +).
This support is vital so that parents of twins, triplets and more can thrive rather than survive in the early years and we strongly encourage the Federal Government to include and consult multiple birth families when making policies that affect families to ensure their voices are heard.
A Director of the Australian Multiple Birth Association and triplet mum, Silje Andersen-Cooke said, “If you have twins in Australia you are essentially treated by the Government as if you had one child. We know categorically that having multiples brings a huge increase in challenges, yet for so long we have been forgotten. In comparison to over 47 other OECD countries, we are coming near last when it comes to support for multiple birth families. It is time to start providing a baseline level of support to multiple birth families in Australia.”
An Australian mother of triplets said of her experience:
“I was pregnant with triplets and had to start my maternity leave when I was 28 weeks pregnant as I was unable to physically work. I gave birth to my triplets at 35 weeks and they spent 19 days in the NICU. Before I had even brought the babies home I had used almost 11 weeks out of the 18 weeks leave prescribed by the Government. My partner’s work only gave him 2 weeks of parental leave, that was nowhere near enough.
I physically needed someone else in the house to help feed my three premature infants, but we very quickly had a single income and my partner had to go back to work. We ended up going into debt and borrowing money just to pay for in-home support because there was nothing else out there to help. It was crippling financially, and I don’t know if we will ever recover in this economy.”
The Australian Multiple Birth Association looks forward to working with government and like-minded organisations to address these unique challenges and improve the level of support Australian multiple birth families receive.
For further information or to organise an interview or photo opportunity, please contact:
Silje Andersen-Cooke, Director
+61 406 793 026
About the Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA):
AMBA is a fully volunteer run not-for-profit which supports over 4,700 families with a multiple birth through affiliated local clubs. AMBA helps parents of multiples by linking them to a support network with other local multiple birth families, providing education and resources and advocating on behalf of parents of multiples with the aim to enable positive health outcomes and equality for multiple birth families.
For more information and to download our recent report, ‘Multiples Matter’, head to https://www.amba.org.au/news/multiples-matter
1 D’Rosario, M., (2023) Twice the joy, twice the support: investigating the financial and emotional needs of multiple birth families, AMBA, Per Capita (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HL0BxEBoEvYtpo7hhpItzwN6SALle8g4/view)
2 Same as above.