Source: The Australian, Thursday, November 24, 1994, p.5
Ms Lena Truusoot and eight-month-old Nina yesterday... 'marriage doesn't carry the same importance'
By TOM DUSEVIC and FIONA CARRUTHERS ONE in four children in Australia is born out of wedlock, increasingly to older mothers, with the father now more likely than ever to acknowledge paternity. The proportion of births outside registered marriage was a record 25 per cent in 1993-up from 15 per cent 10 years ago, new figures from the Bureau of Statistics show. More couples in de facto relationships are having children, later in life, with a high proportion of these couples eventually registering their marriages. In 1993 paternity was acknowledged by 82 per cent of fathers in so-called "ex- nuptial" births, an increase from 64 per cent 10 years earlier. While the most fertile group of women continues to be those aged 25 to 29, women aged 30 to 34 have overtaken women in their early 20s as the second most likely to bear children. Of all births in 1993, 34 per cent were to mothers in the peak fertility group, while 30 per cent of births were to mothers in their early 30s. Issued on the same day as the final report from the National Council for the International Year of the Family, the ABS report highlights a range of long- term trends in families: families are smaller and big families a relic of the past; couples are delaying marriage and childbirth; birth rates remain below population replacement levels; teenage mothers, married or not, are less in evidence. New mum Ms Lena Truusoot, 30, said yesterday more couples were delaying the pomp and circumstance of a wedding day now that social mores had become more relaxed. "I think marriage today is more of a celebration-it doesn't carry the same importance," Ms Truusoot said yesterday at her beachside Sydney home. Baby Nina was born to Lena and her boyfriend, Mr Joe Downs, 31, eight months ago, but there are no immediate plans for marriage. "Maybe in the future we will, but it is not a priority for us," Ms Truusoot said. "It wasn't necessary just because I was pregnant: I don't think that is a good reason to get married. "Marriage has become more of a manifestation than it used to be and not so much of a necessity." These days 82 per cent of new babies have at least one Australian-born parent. Overseas-born mothers tend to be older than mothers born here. During the past 10 years Australia's birth rate has fallen steadily. Although the number of births increased by 7 per cent to 260,229 in the decade to 1993, the female population of child-bearing age has jumped 20 per cent. The median age of mothers continues to rise-as does the age of fathers- while the fertility rate (the number of children one woman would expect to have during her child-bearing years) has been steady at around 1.9 during the past decade. Australia's fertility rate resembles most closely the pattern of the United Kingdom and remains below the so-called "replacement level" of 2.1 children per woman. For the first time, the ABS included details of indigenous births in its annual report. Based on birth registrations, the indigenous populations of South Australia and the Northern Territory experienced higher fertility rates than the general population. The fertility rate for Aboriginal mothers in South Australia was 2.5 compared with 1.8 for all mothers in that State. The corresponding figures for the Northern Territory were 3.0 and 2.3.
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