There is often heated debate and discussion around government financial support to parents with multiples. Following Anika Wells' public plea in parliament with her twins in tow in mid March, the Australian Multiple Birth Association feels that we should explain our position on the issue.
The Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA) lobbied for the Multiple Birth Allowance in the 1990s when there were no government benefits for families of multiples at the time. For a fully volunteer-run organisation, it was one of the most resource intensive projects ever undertaken by the Australian Multiple Birth Association. Through a large and professionally conducted research element, along with significant data analysis, the association was able to prove contiunued financial disadvantage for families with triplets or more - known as higher order multiples (HOMs). Initially, the allowance was in place until the children were school-aged, at age 6. AMBA lobbied further and it was extended to age 18.
Today, if you are raising triplets or more and are eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A, you may qualify for the Multiple Birth Allowance (up to $158 a fortnight for triplets, and up to $210 a fortnight for quads or more, until the children are 18 years of age).
While an important step, the allowance still excludes the majority of families with multiples – namely those with twins and those not eligible for Family Tax Benefits. Additionally, the services don’t recognise the increased demand on parents of newborn multiples when applying paid parental leave for both the birth parent and their partner.
We know anecdotally that families of multiples, including twins, are financially disadvantaged on many levels. However, it’s challenging to differentiate and prove those disadvantages from any other family with more than one child. AMBA has attempted to conclusively prove continued financial disadvantage for twins and were unsuccessful. One of our priorities remains to continue with data collection to assist with the development of evidence-based arguments that will demonstrate our case for requesting additional assistance for families with twins. Ensuring families with twins are not disadvantaged is more than throwing money at them on a fortnightly basis. Our mission is to enable positive health outcomes, awareness and equality and that means addressing the unique needs of families with twins, triplets and more, whether that's direct financial support or establishing other programs and services that meet the needs of multiple birth families when they most require support.
AMBA is part of a collaboration project with Twins Research Australia, the International Council Of Multiple Birth Organisations and Twins Trust (UK) to quantify these insights to lobby for the review of financial support for families of multiples.
For more information, contact:
Ashlee Tenberge, Chairperson
Mobile: 0438 679 773