Tasmanian teen pregnancy rates decline

Christine Bugg, holding her son Marshall, both of Launceston, Karinya Young Mums 'n Bubs Worker Heidi, and Sharnya Reeman-Shea, holding her son Lynken, of Launceston.

Christine Bugg, holding her son Marshall, both of Launceston, Karinya Young Mums 'n Bubs Worker Heidi, and Sharnya Reeman-Shea, holding her son Lynken, of Launceston.

LIFE was already tough for Sharnya Reeman-Shea when she found out she was pregnant.

Having been kicked out of home at just 12, she soon left school and later became involved with drugs.

But learning she was carrying a now six-month-old Lynken at just 15 turned out to be a blessing for the doting mum.

‘‘It saved me,’’ the Launceston teenager said.

Teen pregnancy rates have dropped dramatically in Tasmania in the past five years.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 27.7 mums per 100,000 were aged between 15 and 19 in 2009, but the figure had plunged to 19.4 per 100,000 by 2014.

The number still represented the nation’s second-highest rate of teen parents but Family Planning Tasmania general manager Cedric Manen said a focus on education and intervention had helped improve the statistic.

He said work undertaken by the organisation had a direct correlation with a decrease in teen pregnancies with 45 per cent of Family Planning’s clients under 30.

‘‘It’s important for people to have choice and I think when you’re young you need to be able to exercise those choices wisely,’’ he said.

‘‘Bringing the rate down means that people have the maturity or choices to know when they’re going to start a family as opposed to accidentally having one.’’

Karinya Young Mums and Bubs worker Heidi (last name withheld) assists young parents like Sharnya by linking them in with services, helping them find accommodation and, in some cases, facilitating a return to school.

She said it was crucial young parents were supported.

‘‘Parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have in your life and as a society and community we need to support young parents more instead of being judgmental,’’ she said.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop