Index: 1.5

Swan Hill Guardian
Index: 1.5
Wednesday 5/3/2008
Brief: RMCRI
Page 1 of 2
Page: 1
Section: General News
Region: Swan Hill VIC Circulation: 4,385
Type: Regional
Size: 516.96 sq.cms.
Published: M-W-F--
Caution urged among sexually active youth of the district
Teenage pregnancies up
STORY and PHOTO: Justine
McCullagh-Beasy
LOCAL health experts are urging
sexually active youth to be more cautious after it was revealed Swan Hill
had one of the highest rates of teenage
pregnancy in the state.
In an alarming trend, according to
the figures, 15-19-year-olds count for
10 per cent of the town's pregnancies.
significantly higher than the state
average of 2.9 per cent.
Socioeconomic issues, rising alcohol
consumption and a lack of access
to contraception are believed to be
contributing factors to the rise.
The figures coincide with a leading
health expert's proposal of handing out
the morning-after pill to girls at school
without parental consent.
Professor Susan Sawyer, director of
can walk, but there should be condom attending university in Melbourne
vending machines in schools. Not before the birth ofLincoln but has since
having them there is condemning started on a new journey.
"I've bought a house, become an
certain kids to a life of drudgery."
Although understanding the ideals assistant manager at the (Swan Hill)
of certain religions. Dr Moynihan outdoor pool, got a diploma and we are
said faith needed to take a backseat both happy and healthy," she said.
when dealing with sexually active "Being a young mum is not the end of
the world, it's just the beginning."
teenagers.
"I think churches should take a step Ms Van Liessum discovered she was
backwards and that schools should pregnant in the March after finishing
have condom vending machines and high school and while shocked, she said
be able to make (more) contraceptive an embracing family made the journey
much easier.
advice to teenagers," he said.
Dr Moynihan said while it was difficult
"My uni and family were very positive.
to discover an underlying factor for It was very welcome and they were all
the percentage, where Swan Hill was excited about it.
"It is hard work and I used to think
rated second behind Central Goldfields
on 14.5 per cent, the rates were of a it was just `little girls having babies'
-you may start as a young girl but you
the Victoria's Centre for Adolescent concern.
Health, has called on nurses to be able "Is it ignorance. is it carelessness, turn into a woman overnight."
to administer the oral contraceptive to and is there a characteristic in the Despite the odd glance from those in
population here that leads to early the street. Ms Van Liessum said the
those in need.
general outlook from the public had
President of Rural Doctors sexual activity?
been positive.
Association of Victoria and local GP, At is a bit difficult to fathom."
Mike Moynihan, said he saw a large But while the statistics appear "I've had a few funny looks but not
number of pregnant teenagers come daunting, April Van Liessum is proof many. Everyone has a right to their
through the Swan Hill Medical Clinic. there is a bright side.
He said introducing the morning-after While not as young as some to fall
pill and condom vending machines pregnant in the area, the mother of onein high schools was a crucial step in year-old Lincoln said having a child at
ensuring the region's youth had access 19 had pros and cons.
opinion."
Praising the help of the Swan Hill
District Hospital midwifery and
Australian Breastfeeding Association
(ABA), Ms Van Liessum said the support
"Everyone says you miss out on so on offer from local organisations was
to important contraceptive measures.
"Mildura and Swan Hill have always much, but we're just doing the opposite imperative.
"The midwives were very good at the
had high rates (of teenage pregnancy). (university later)," she said.
I am not sure what that is due to," he "We'll grow up together and I'll know prenatal classes and the ABA don't care
what he'll be up to. In this day and how old you are or what you look like.
said.
"You wouldn't have thought there was age it doesn't matter if you're young
CONTINUED - Page 3
or old."
any particular reason for it.
"We don't want to run before we
Ms Van Liessum, now
21.
was
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Swan Hill Guardian
Index: 1.5
Wednesday 5/3/2008
Brief: RMCRI
Page 2 of 2
Page: 1
Section: General News
Region: Swan Hill VIC Circulation: 4,385
Type: Regional
Size: 516.96 sq.cms.
Published: M-W-F--
MOTHER AND SON BOND: April Van Liessum gave birth to her son Lincoln when she was 19
Pregnancies increase
FROM Page 1
"THEY are there 24 hours a day and
were one of the best support (systems)...
Swan Hill District Hospital's unit
manager of midwifery Yvonne Penny
said while the rates may appear high.
the region's population must be taken
into account.
"It's a small jump because they are
percentage figures and we work with
low figures, so it doesn't take much
for a jump," she said.
The hospital's birth rate for 15-19
year olds in 2001 was 6.1 per cent. 6.3
per cent in 2002, 4.6 per cent in 2003,
5.2 per cent in 2004, 6.0 per cent in
2005 and rose to 9.7 per cent in 2006.
Ms Penny said the 2006 figures
equated to 23 births for that particular age group.
She stressed there were numerous
local organisations willing to help
teenage mothers, fathers and cou-
ples.
"We have a program of support here
which is run in conjunction with the
Southern Mallee Family Services and
is a joint process between the Department of Human Services, Mallee
Family Care, Anglicare, St Luke's,
Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-operative and Sea Lake and District Health
Service.
"We have a project called Every
Child, Every Chance and it is a support initiative to assist families who
need extra support within the community." she said.
Mallee Family Care manager Maurie Harris said the community centred organisation was on hand to help
with pregnant teenagers who are referred to them, usually for emergency
housing.
Mr Harris, though, said they rarely
dealt with teenage pregnancy.
"Most cope pretty well and have a
lot of backup and support," he said.
"If they are referred to us we will
take them on and help with their
needs. whatever they may be. but we
don't get many."
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