In Australia, the number of multiples born each year is relatively small, accounting for 2 – 3% of all births. Twins make up the majority of multiples born (98%) with the remaining 2% being triplets, quadruplets or other higher order multiples.
Multiple birth families face a significantly greater set of challenges compared to those with a single birth. Yet in Australia, families with twins are offered no more financial benefits by Government than parents of singletons. This is despite the fact that twins cost parents up to five times as much as a single child.
IMPACT’s Professor Jeffrey Craig is a Deakin researcher in Early Life Epigenetics and has recently been working with the Australian Multiple Birth Association to call for changes to Australia’s policies to better support families.
His research includes a longitudinal study that has followed twins throughout their lives from before birth to explore their development and the link between environmental factors, development and disease.
Prof. Craig says more support is needed for families with multiple births, particularly when it comes to their mental health.
‘Unfortunately, unlike most advanced OECD economies, Australia doesn’t provide any additional leave to support multiple birth families, and no additional benefits to parents of twins, placing a greater strain on already struggling families.’
‘We know that 61% of parents who have multiples experience mental health challenges in their first year. And we know that financial assistance can help ease this burden on families.’ says Prof. Craig.
Calls are being made by experts for greater investment including one-off payments, in-home support and extended paid parental leave.
Professor Jeffery Craig, Early Life Epigenetics Researcher at IMPACT
‘I’ve recently become the new patron of the Australian Multiple Births Association, who are championing for these families who are often left out of the conversation,’
‘Better support for Australian families means improved mental health outcomes for these parents,’
‘I strongly support the call of the Australian Multiple Births Association’s for a Multiple Birth Grant, in-home support, and extension of paid paternal leave.’ says Prof. Craig.
You can read the complete report online here.