The Australian Government introduced the baby Bonus scheme a few years ago now to try and reverse a slide in the birth rate that was happening throughout the 90's. In there wisdom and you wont hear me complaining they started offering $3000 to any one that had a baby as a way of making it easier to get started. That bonus goes uo to $4000 next year and is to peak at $6000 in 2007 or 2008 somewhere around there. What follows is an article about the perceived way that parents are spending this bonus. My mom and I where talking about this the other day and had totally different views on the matter so I thought I would write about it. Please read the article from the Melbourne Herald sun Newspaper below
Parents on baby bonus binge
By Kate Jones and Sarah WotherspoonJune 04, 2005
Rewarding ... Parents are using the $3000 taxpayer-funded baby bonus to splurge on overseas holidays, new cars and home renovations
PARENTS are using the $3000 taxpayer-funded baby bonus to splurge on overseas holidays, new cars and home renovations.A nationwide survey of parents has found the federal grant is paying for extravagant luxuries before baby expenses.
The Herald Sun can reveal almost half the parents in the nation's first baby-bonus survey did not spend the grant on their newborns.
For some, paying off the mortgage, cutting credit card debt and boosting superannuation funds were higher priorities.
One parent used the grant to buy a new chainsaw; another spent it concreting the back yard.
Survey findings also showed parents believe the grant is failing to boost a flagging population: just 27 per cent agreed it encouraged women to have children.
The $3000 bonus was introduced last July as a birth incentive. So far, Victorians have claimed $146 million in baby bonuses - almost a quarter of the total $618 million received by mums and dads.
The Herald Sun survey of more than 130 parents found 62 per cent believed the grant was not enough to cover the costs of a newborn in its first six months.
"It's only a drop in the ocean for all the expenses you have with kids," Juliette Williams, from Richmond, said.
"It's a nice little windfall at a time when you don't have as much money coming in, but it doesn't change your life, and the bonus alone would not encourage me to have another baby."
Annabelle Shaw, from Hampton, said: "(It) does not cover all the equipment, clothes and furniture you need when a baby is first born, as well as nappies. You would need. . . closer to $5000."
Eligible parents must have had children after June 30, 2004. There are no restrictions on what the money is spent on.
From July 2006, the grant will rise to $5000.
But parents said it would be better spent on:
PAID maternity leave.
SUBSIDISED child care.
FUNDING for more childcare places.
A REBATE system for baby gear and food.
"I would personally prefer paid maternity leave to reduce feelings of isolation from the workplace and also to encourage me to return to work," Sharon Beaumont, from Richmond, said.
Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson said a paid maternity-leave scheme had been an option, "but we wanted to provide assistance for all parents, not just those where mothers were working".
She defended parents who spent the bonus on other things, saying paying off mortgages, home improvements to accommodate a baby and paying off credit cards all helped families.
Kylie Little, of Essential Baby website, agreed.
"If it's a new car or something else, it's still funding a lifestyle that accommodates children," Ms Little said.
Parents also said the grant should be means-tested or include age restrictions to prevent teenage pregnancies.
Victorian Council of Social Services spokeswoman Carolyn Atkins said struggling parents were more deserving. "We welcome that the bonus is trying to support families, but by means-testing it will ensure the money is better directed to families most in need," she said.
The Opposition's spokeswoman for women, Tanya Plibersek, said that under Labor parents would receive up to $5000, to be paid over 14 weeks.
Payments would be capped according to parents' income, she said.
Parents are also confused by the paperwork required to claim the grant: 30 per cent found it time-consuming and 12 per cent found it hard.
"A lot of the information seemed irrelevant," Michelle Chung, from Elwood, said.
The 134 survey participants, mostly from Victoria, replied to mailouts to councils, childcare centres and mothers' groups, and website postings.
Now you dont get the baby bonus till after the child is born about 4 weeks after. Now I agree that the parents should be able to spend it how they like as long as they have the essentials for the baby. Rebecca and I have already bought everything we need for the baby and have spent it out of our savings account so when we receive the bonus it will be going back into our savings account. I see it as all parents are going to spend alot more than $3000 on there baby over there life so if this is there only chance to buy a new lounge or bed or even a holiday I say go for it as long as you know you will be able to provide for your child in the future.
does any other countries out there have a scheme like this one if so please comment and tell me what you would do with the money.