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AMBA urges Government not to cut Multiple Birth Allowance in Budget

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The Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA) represents families with twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets and more across Australia. All of these types of births are referred to as a “multiple birth”, while triplets or more, are known as “Higher Order Multiples” (HOM). This is a way of distinguishing this minority within a minority; indeed, less than 1.5%* of multiples are HOMs.

Eligible** HOM families receive a much needed Multiple Birth Allowance, from the Government, with a maximum amount of $3,920.10 per year for families with triplets or $5,219.50 per year for families with quadruplets or more.  

Fewer than 1,000*** families in Australia receive this payment. That’s less than $500,000 a year.

AMBA are concerned that this Allowance will be removed by the Government in the upcoming Budget.

A previous Government’s recommendation**** was that the Allowance should be removed.  This was met with despair by HOM families and AMBA could not understand their rationale - Given what is known about the costs of children, there is little rationale for these extra payments.****

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling Studies (NATSEM) shows costs are decreasing for families for the second and subsequent children. This is based on the premise that items purchased for the first child are able to be passed onto subsequent children*****. This is not the case for multiple birth families. NATSEM also shows that the biggest increases to cost of living are in childcare and education – two areas of immediate expense where families with HOMs are unable to spread the cost.

“If a child costs $250,000 to raise in a family as a singleton until adult age, the costs are magnified when three or more children are born at the same time,” said AMBA’s Communications Director, Erin Sinclair.  “There are no hand-me-downs, and children can be actively disadvantaged over schooling options, attendance at after-school activities and camps” said, Ms Sinclair.

“We were really grateful that this change didn’t occur and it really adds credence to the Government’s support of families”, said Ms Sinclair.

“This week, we sent a letter to the Government asking them to understand how this Allowance assists HOM families and how the removal of the allowance will have a detrimental impact on them.” said Ms Sinclair. 

AMBA have launched this Change.org petition to garner support from the broader community in support of HOM families.  

In 2008 AMBA successfully lobbied the Government to extend the Allowance to cover families until their HOM children reached the age of 18, provided three or more of the HOMs were in full-time study (prior to this change, the Allowance ceased when the HOMs reached six years of age). HOM families around Australia who have benefited from this extension are incredibly grateful for the additional support that it provided as their children progressed into the schooling environment.

In 2015 AMBA met with the Government regarding a name change for the Allowance as there’s a misconception that has developed as to the availability and intent of the Allowance. The name causes confusion for families expecting twins who expect that the Allowance covers them as well.   We recognise that the intention of the Allowance was to provide additional support only to families with HOMs. While we would love to see payments  provided to all families with multiples we understand how unlikely this is given the difference between an average of 69 HOM births per year versus 4500 set of multiples.

We propose that the confusion would be reduced by renaming the Allowance to the “Higher Order Multiples Allowance”.

CONTACT DETAILS

Erin Sinclair, Communications Director

communications@amba.org.au

Mobile: 0499651872

www.amba.org.au

*The most recent data available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2014, only 65 out of 4,316 multiple births were HOMs, from a total of 299,697 births (Births, 2014).

**The Allowance is only paid to HOM families who meet the income eligibility tests for Family Tax Benefit Part A. The Allowance is paid on a sliding scale depending on the family's’ income.

***1,000 families is based on data from the 2008-09 Annual Report from the Department of Social Services, when it was FaHCSIA, as details about the Multiple Birth Allowance are not quoted in the current 2014-15 report.   The Annual Report states that there were 398,000 families receiving the FTB Part A and 950 were receiving the Multiple Birth Allowance.  This correlates with the fact that there would only ever be around 1,200 HOM families in Australia who had children under 18 at any one time.  This is based on an average of 69 HOM births per year since 2009.  Of course, not all of these families are eligible for the payment and 18 years of age is the cut-off for the payment if at least 3 of the children are senior secondary school children until the end of the calendar year in which the first born of those children turns 18 years of age.

**** http://www.ncoa.gov.au/report/phase-one/part-b/7-5-family-tax-benefits.html

***** http://www.ncoa.gov.au/report/appendix-vol-1/9-5-family-tax-benefit.html



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