Teen parents: 'Technically we're bludging off taxpayers'
"PEOPLE are saying that you don't know what you're talking about, that you're too young, you haven't got the life lessons that are needed. You're just bumming off taxpayers making more mistakes at every turn.
"What do you say to them?"
A Current Affair reporter Taylor Auerbach certainly didn't mince his words when he interviewed two teen parents from Sydney on Wednesday night's show.
Cheyanne Eastment-Cameron and her partner Brendan Nelson conceived their healthy baby girl Brenda when they were aged just 14 and 16 respectively.
Now aged 16, Ms Eastment-Cameron made headlines this week when she revealed to the Daily Telegraph she was currently pregnant with baby number two.
"We're trying our best," Mr Nelson told Channel Nine.
"Yeah, technically we're bludging off taxpayers, but in the end all we can say is, you know, they're helping us. They're helping us raise our daughter ... there's not much we can do when the employment rate is that good."
"Just because they have a job themselves doesn't mean everyone else has to," Ms Eastment-Cameron added.
They said it not as a defence of their lifestyle, but as a statement of fact.
The issue of teen parenting sparked widespread debate this week when news emerged that a 15-year-old mother and 14-year-old father smuggled their newborn baby girl out of a Sydney hospital, fearing welfare officials would take her away.
They hid overnight in local bushland as police launched a desperate search operation, eventually turning themselves in.
Ms Eastment-Cameron and Mr Nelson believe the young couple should be given the same opportunity they'd have to raise the baby themselves.
"They're scared of losing their baby. I can understand it," Mr Nelson said.
"They were hurt, and there would be so much going through their minds, like, being so young and having a kid. But in the end they just wanted to prove to themselves that they can be parents."
"Would you do the same?" Mr Auerbach asked.
"Probably, yeah, if someone was going to take my baby away. At least, if it was to happen, the last couple of minutes with that baby would have been, like, the best," replied Ms Eastment-Cameron.
Others, however, have condemned their choices.
"Children having children is never a good idea," NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told the Daily Telegraph earlier this week.
"It completely disrupts their normal peer relationships, it disrupts their emancipation from adult carers."
He added that teen mothers were typically forced to abandon their education, "booking themselves on a treadmill of poverty for the foreseeable future".
"I know people are probably going to look at this, comment on it and say: 'Youse (sic) don't know what youse are doing, youse are young," Mr Nelson said.
"We're learning, we're doing our best."
The young family is spread between two housing commission units at Hebersham, but the couple said they'd like to get their own flat when the next baby arrives.
They spend most of their time with Ms Eastment-Cameron's mother, Leanne, who is already a grandmother to 22 children aged between 10 and three weeks.
"With another one on the way?" Mr Auerbach asks.
"Another four. Another four on the way," she clarified, cradling Brenda in her arms.
A Current Affair makes it clear the two are doting parents, and they're doing what they can to ensure their daughter is happy and healthy despite their circumstances.
In fact, the pair credit their child with saving her father's life.
"Before she was born I was a really depressed kid, I was suicidal. I would always have bad thoughts running through my mind," Mr Nelson said, adding that he would have described his lifestyle as "feral".
"Now all I can think of is her."
The pair say if their daughter follows in their footsteps and becomes pregnant young, they'll support her so "she can have the happiness we have".
"Hopefully she does wait a bit longer so she can finish school and stuff, but if she does it early I'll be supportive," Ms Eastment-Cameron said.
"What does she mean to you?" Mr Auerbach asked.
"The world," Ms Eastment-Cameron replied.
"Absolutely everything," Mr Nelson agreed.