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A "hi!" would be nice

A "hi!" would be nice

When Dr. Cullen delivers his budget speech later this week Parents Centre President Sharron Cole hopes that he says "hi" to to the nations millions of parents.

"After checking each of Dr. Cullen's pre-budget announcements for some acknowledgment of the nation's parents, a wave is about all we can hope for." says Ms Cole.

Parents Centre has watched the "deforestation" of the parenting environment for several decades with growing alarm. While the business environment is alive with government resources and agencies dedicated to helping business succeed, the parenting environment is a desert. The only government resources put towards parents are focused on those parents who are failing. At the same time we have made the paid work environment exciting, attractive and desirable we have allowed parenting, as a vocation, to become decidedly unappealing.

"It is hardly any wonder that women are leaving starting families till later in life and hurrying back to work", said Ms Cole. "Who would want to spend their lives in a vocation which is neglected by society? Parents are given no incentive to acquire new skills or knowledge, they get no tax recognition, and pitiful support. The government wants our business sector to succeed and gives them all the help they need. Why do they not give similar messages and help to our parents - after all parents are raising the next generation of entrepreneurs?"

"Parents are the fundamental building block of social capital. To raise motivated capable citizens we need our parents to be enthusiastic, motivated, skilled and resourced and we need them to feel that they are doing an important social job and their efforts are valued. While the Families Commission is something the government can point to with pride - they can't point to it until next year. If parents continue to get messages from government that their issues have no priority with this government then the Families Commission find itself swimming against a very strong current of political thinking. We need some signals now that parents matter.

"The government had better wake up to this bleak environment soon", warns Ms Cole. "If people look objectively at parenting and have to ask themselves why they would want to move from an work environment where they are valued, supported and have a lot of self esteem to one where they are nothing but an excuse for social failure, more and more will elect to not have families. The consequences of a falling population on our ability to sustain ourselves as a country is serious. Last year we recorded a 3% drop in our birthrate and our birthrate is around 10% lower than it was in 1991."

"We could be taking a world leadership position in recognising and valuing parents, and creating an environment for them to raise the world's best children. For a moderately small investment we could expect a society that is motivated, healthy and thriving. Instead we are prepared to build more prisons and have a larger sector of our society that need expensive government support to survive. This is a waste of human potential at a time when the government is calling for innovation and a knowledge economy.

"Lacking such innovation, a cheery wave from Dr. Cullen will have to do." says Ms Cole.

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