Monday, 20 March 2023
Today the Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA) released an insightful new report, “Multiples Matter: Investigating the Support Needs of Multiple Birth Families”. This report is based on research by PerCapita which outlines the unique challenges multiple birth families face and recommendations for increased support in Australia.
In Australia, the number of multiples born each year is relatively small, accounting for 2 - 3% of all births. Twins make up the majority of multiples born (98%) with the remaining 2% being triplets, quadruplets or other higher order multiples.
The report shows that multiple birth families face a significantly greater set of challenges compared to those with singletons, including:
- 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 1;
- pregnant women with multiples are more prone to virtually every pregnancy complication;
- 68% of multiples are born premature and admitted to SCN or NICU, and 50% have hospital stays of 6 days or more;
- mothers of multiples have a lower breastfeeding rate, and are more likely to discontinue breastfeeding earlier than mothers of singletons;
- 61% of parents of multiples experience mental health challenges in their first year;
- parents of multiples are 9 times more likely to experience disabling exhaustion; and
- 67% of parents of multiples said childcare in Australia was not affordable for their family.
Multiples are more likely to face greater challenges in their early years, necessitating additional dedicated support. 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 does not provide additional leave to multiple birth families, unlike most advanced OECD economies that offer extra support to families with multiples. The current payments to Australian families with multiples account for less than 7% of the differential costs.
Given the inadequate policies in place to support multiple birth families, the Australian Multiple Birth Association and PerCapita are recommending policy change that will lead to improved outcomes for families.
The report contains several recommendations for policy change, including:
- Multiple Birth Grant: A one-off payment of up to $15,000 for twins, $30,000 for triplets and $45,000 for quadruplets.
- In-home support: 240 hours of hands-on help for twins to be used within 12 months and 1560 hours for triplets and other higher order multiples to be used within 24 months.
- Extension of paid parental leave: 8 additional weeks of parental leave for twins; 16 weeks additional for triplets; 24 weeks additional for quadruplets.
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.
Download the media release here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ajs_CHrOARWp3YLLOYUmhFxsKsK4g-EU/view?usp=share_link
Download the executive summary of the report here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qUHJWwxd0IpRoKXrQENRgak2-qHPE3qT/view?usp=share_link
Download the full report here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HL0BxEBoEvYtpo7hhpItzwN6SALle8g4/view?usp=share_link