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Thursday, 27 May 2004

Uniting Church supports flexible maternity payments

The Uniting Church today expressed its support for greater choice in Government maternity payments for all mothers.

UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said yesterday’s debate in Parliament about lump sum maternity payments to young mothers had missed the point.

“The suggestion that lump sum payments will encourage young women to have children is flawed."

“The experience of UnitingCare providers across Australia is that young women enter relationships seeking the support and comfort which is often missing from their home lives.”

“While these relationships often lead to pregnancy they are almost never planned. Across our range of national programmes you don’t find women who would choose to fall pregnant to access a $3000 payment,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“There is not one right way of making this payment to mothers and any maternity payment policy should provide flexibility and choice.”

“For some women, accessing a lump sum will help with the major up front costs associated with having a baby, and for others who might be vulnerable or financially inexperienced fortnightly payments backed up with financial planning support would be more appropriate." “We believe in giving mothers flexibility and choice in how they access these payments and in ensuring they provide direct assistance to the child.”

“Political leaders need to recognise this will not happen unless mothers have choice in how they access payments.”

Media contact: Gavin Melvin, Senior Communications Officer, Uniting Church National Assembly – 0417 416 474
Contacts: Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia: (bh) 02 6290 2160 (m) 0408 402 222