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Trials and tribulations of teenage mums

AAP logoAAP 20/11/2016 Belinda Tasker

Having her first baby at 16 was a shock for Simone Miller, but it's not something she regrets.

At the time, back in 2001, she was living in a caravan in western Sydney with her boyfriend Marc and struggled to finish Year 11 at Plumpton High School.

One of the biggest sources of support she received was from a unique program for teenage mums run by the school.

Set up by the school's then principal Glenn Sargeant the program helped more than 250 girls continue with their studies after having their babies.

Fifteen years later, a documentary crew has caught up with three of the teen mums, including Simone, to provide an insight into the highs and lows of their lives.

The documentary, Plumpton High Babies: 10 Years On, is a follow-up to the original documentary about their lives made when Simone was pregnant.

Now a mum to five children ranging in age from just four weeks to 15, Simone says life is "pretty good".

Her great hope is that those watching the new documentary will see that while being a teenage mum is no fairytale, it doesn't necessarily lead to an unhappy ending.

"We had a baby young and people think it's not going to work out well but it sort of is," Simone tells AAP.

"I wanted to show people what my kids are doing. They're doing really well, really good things.

"We aren't the most affluent family but our family is all about us and our kids and always has been and always will be. We are rich in that sense."

While Simone did return to her studies after having her first son Ashton, she left school at the end of Year 11.

She describes Mr Sargeant as being "close to a saint" for the support he provided.

The program he ran ended not long after he retired in 2004 after 18 years at Plumpton.

Mr Sargeant says its a shame it no longer exists and that he believes it should be re-introduced and expanded across NSW.

"You wouldn't believe the joy I used to get when I'd congratulate a girl when she received her school certificate, a young mother," he said.

He credits the program for boosting self-esteem among the teen mums and helping them make better life decisions, while pregnancy rates at the school plummeted.

"The girls would say to me, 'we're still doing the same things we used to do, we're still partying at the weekend but we're careful now. We see how hard it is for Julie, Mary or Sue, bringing up their babies and we don't want that to happen to us'," he said.

While Simone wouldn't recommend being a teenage mum and says she would have "heart failure" if any of her children started a family while still at school, she has no regrets.

"I think we're pretty awesome parents and I have learned not to worry about what people say and keep doing what you're doing as long as you are happy," she said.

* Plumpton High Babies: 10 Years On screens on the ABC on Monday, November 28 at 9.20pm.

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