A pattern of intergenerational disadvantage in Australia traps too many young mums on welfare for life. One program, the Young Mothers Pathways Project, wants to put a stop to that pattern for good.

For the past two years, Campbell Page has been leading a consortium of partners to pilot the Young Mothers Pathways Project. It supports young mums to study, find work, access affordable childcare and housing, and build a happy, healthy family.

This effective intervention is a wraparound approach with a dual focus on young mothers’ capabilities, education, training, and employment, as well as children’s development and education so they can thrive.

Supported by foundational investors Macquarie Foundation and Third Link, the project has aimed to demonstrate a model that can, by 2025, reduce the incidence of intergenerational unemployment in the areas it serves by increasing the number of single mothers aged 19-30 in sustainable employment by 20 percent. Against a market benchmark of 18 percent, the program is achieving 45% sustained employment as at June 2022.

Critical to this success is the partnership of organisations that have joined forces to enable young mothers like Libby, Jodie and Toni to achieve their goals. Below, they candidly share the difficulties they faced before and since becoming mothers, including intimate partner violence, substance misuse, disruption to their education, lack of financial security and stigma surrounding mothering at a young age.

Libby (above) has experienced judgement and assumptions as a young mum.

Libby left school after giving birth to her daughter due to the lack of support and judgement from teachers and peers.

They assume that I sleep around all the time – they don’t know the whole story.

The Young Mothers Pathway Project is working with Libby to help her get back to school, a goal she knows will allow her to change the future for her and her daughter.

They’ve helped me get all my I.D. and stuff done for when I needed to get my learners. They give me help with my [baby] and housing and school.

Gaining her blue card back will be a critical step to Toni achieving her dream.

Like 60% of single mothers in Australia, Toni has left violent relationships. Prior to her pregnancy, Toni was in an unsafe living situation with a violent partner and using drugs. Since commencing with the Young Mothers Pathways Project, Toni has built her confidence, gained a job, earned a promotion and is working hard to earn back her blue card [working with children clearance] with the support of the team. Toni is experiencing financial freedom for the first time and is excited to achieve her goal of qualifying in social work.

Money’s not an issue at the moment, which is something I haven’t always been able to say, so that’s another huge blessing.

Jodie lives an hour away from the bus stop; with the program’s support, she got her licence and a car so she can transport her daughter anywhere, any time.

Isolated, Jodie struggled to find reliable transport to get to important appointments with her daughter, let alone get to work on time. Before her pregnancy, she worked in hospitality and events but had difficulty breaking back in with the demands of parenting.

At the time of filming, Jodie’s biggest goal was getting a job, which she has now achieved with the team’s support.

I’ve been struggling with that kind of stuff. Work, getting my career back on track.

These are just snippets of the considerable impact of the Young Mothers Pathways Project on breaking intergenerational disadvantage and supporting young mothers to achieve goals they never imagined.

We have the evidence of impact and that with the right co-investment, we can continue our operations in Deception Bay, and scale into Queanbeyan, the ACT and the South Coast of NSW, said Anne Hodge, Head of Community Services, Campbell Page.

For further information, contact Anne Hodge, Head of Community Services, via phone at 0448 243 155 or email anne.hodge@campbellpage.org.au

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