CentaCare to run new Breathing Space program for young mothers who have had children taken from them

Young mums who have already had a child taken from them by authorities will be given tailored support to stop future children ending up in state care.

The Breathing Space program will work with 12 women aged 25 or younger.

It is based on research that found huge numbers of children in state care were coming from a tiny group of struggling young parents producing multiple children.

The Advertiser has been told of past cases where parents have had at least eight children removed by authorities.

Recently it was revealed two girls aged 13 have fallen pregnant while in state care.

The State Government has allocated $900,000 to CentaCare to run a two-year trial of the Breathing Space program with young mothers, which is based on a UK model.

Research has shown about a quarter of young mums who’ve had multiple children removed by authorities were in state care as a child, and more than two-thirds had been the subject of alleged abuse or neglect during their childhood.

Centacare’s Michelle Warner said the new program aimed “to stop that intergenerational trauma from continuing to the next generation”.

CentaCare worker Michelle Warner is the manager of the new Breathing Space program. Picture: Tom Huntley
CentaCare worker Michelle Warner is the manager of the new Breathing Space program. Picture: Tom Huntley

“These women haven’t had a kind of positive parenting experience or template themselves,” she said. “They may have experienced other awful traumas, they might have been exposed to violence or sexual abuse.

They don’t have that secure attachment in their childhood and therefore they’re kind of unable to provide that to their children.”

Young mums are being referred by the Child Protection and Human Services departments, birthing hospitals and youth homelessness or health services.

They will be given support with life skills and home routines, sexual health, literacy and finances, transport to appointments and therapy.

“If they’ve just had a child removed, or several children removed, there’s definitely grief, loss, shame,” Ms Warner said. “We’ve had young mums say to us that they’re deserted by services once their baby is removed.”

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said specialists would work with vulnerable young mums to focus on their own development and help them overcome traumas.

Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson said it was “a chance for us to wraparound our most vulnerable young mums and provide them with the support they need to get back on track”.


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