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Investing in supporting mums and dads is crucial for our future prosperity.

Mothers are raising the next generation of workers and tax-payers, help support them for our future prosperity

By ANNE HOLLANDS

We all know mums matter and we just had Mothers’ Day to remind us to thank our mothers.

But with the Federal budget handed down just two days’ later and a big spotlight on our economic problems, it’s important we also remember that mothers are raising the next generation of workers and tax-payers, and that helping young mums and their kids has been proven to contribute to our economic prosperity.

The research shows that prevention and early intervention are effective in improving wellbeing and are also the most cost-effective investment for governments. So it’s puzzling to find that many of the changes in the Federal budget will make it harder, not easier for young parents.

Well-supported mums (and dads) are the best form of early intervention to prevent or reduce the severity and cost of future life problems. The Benevolent Society has been urging the government to pay attention to the return on investment of supporting mums and dads, especially young parents, who are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to future economic growth. When young children get a better start to life, the return on investment is significant throughout their lives.

The home is the child’s first university because the early years of life are when the brain is developing fastest and the foundations for social, emotional, cognitive and physical development and wellbeing are being laid down.

Children don’t need hot-housing. Children’s brains develop through interaction with parents who do ordinary things like talk, sing, read and play with their kids. But all parents need support and some parents need extra support because they face extra challenges.

Well-supported mums (and dads) are the best form of early intervention to prevent or reduce the severity and cost of future life problems

Accessible health services, family support and early childhood education, affordable housing and decent jobs close to home – these are some of the things that are proven to make a big difference to parents and children. We all benefit if we can pull together as a community to make sure our young families get the support they need.

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Nearly a quarter of all children in Australia are developmentally vulnerable when they start school, and most do not catch up, seriously affecting their future education and employment.

(1) This is unacceptable in a prosperous country like ours when we know that early intervention works. We all ultimately pay the cost of failing to support vulnerable kids and their parents.

Early action for young families is the best investment we can make – the evidence shows that it results in improved school readiness, better school performance, and reduced unemployment, homelessness and crime. For example, studies in Canada showed that for every 1% decrease in developmental vulnerability at age 5, there was a 1% increase in the country’s GDP (ref).

Prevention is better than cure is common sense, but research shows it also makes economic sense.

Failing to invest in prevention and early action is like we’re signing a blank cheque now for much higher future costs for the community.

Join our Early Action Campaign to help us drive this message home to our politicians and business leaders.

Anne Hollonds is a child and family psychologist and chief executive of the Benevolent Society.

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