Pressures on working families linked to low fertility rates

The release of a new study, Fertility and Family Policy in Australia, reveals ongoing pressures on working families are preventing many women from having children or large families. 

In her response to the research paper released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigeneous Affairs, Jenny Macklin says working families need support during life transitions so that they have the confidence to have children if they want them.

Ms Macklin said support systems need to address the realities of modern Australian life.

The report confirms that fertility rates are at close to the lowest ever in Australia and are below the level required for population replacement.  Most of those surveyed would like to have more children and only very few considered no children or one child their ideal number of children.

The research paper found that even with economic security, couples lacked confidence in their ability to create and maintain a family environment which provided emotional and financial support for children.  Their decision to not have children was also influenced by other factors including difficulties in accessing childcare, job insecurity and the cost of housing.

The Rudd Government has announced policies to help families balance work and family such as parental leave, increasing the Child Care Tax Rebate from 30% to 50%, universal preschool for all four year olds and co-locating child care services on school sites.

The Australian Government has also asked the Productivity Commission to examine ways the Government can improve support to parents with newborn children.

The Commission will explore ways to make it as easy as possible for working mums to balance their employment with the important job of raising a new generation of Australians.

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