A young mother who says working isn't worth it in New Zealand thinks she may have to move to Australia to get ahead.

Kataraina Reuben, whose baby son, Te Rawhiti, met Social Development Minister Paula Bennett in Whangarei yesterday, got a fulltime job as a teacher aid but ended up only $40 a week better off than she was on the benefit.

At 26 she has four children, ranging from a 12-year-old down to Te Rawhiti, who is just 13 months. She is in a Family Start programme run by Ngati Hine Health Trust, which invited her and about 80 others to a meeting with Ms Bennett about the green paper on vulnerable children.

She said it was good to have the programme's support in "making sure I have everything sorted for my kids". She believes Work and Income (Winz) should sign up other beneficiaries on to it.

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"Parenting programmes need to be done through Winz obligations or some parents will never better themselves, and that's how children stay in a vulnerable state."

But Work and Income did not investigate what its clients needed. "They don't want to know you if you're not coping or anything. It's just, 'Here's what you're owed, off you go, goodbye.' They don't have a follow-up service, so maybe [we need] a separate part to provide a follow-up if you can see a parent struggling."

She said she wanted to stay in New Zealand but Australia offered a better future.

"My mum is over there. She said there's a job sitting there for me. I've been out to employment before. But when I had to get childcare for my other children I was $40 better off working for a fulltime job, so it was not a win-win situation. It seems like a win-win situation just to go over to Australia, even though I don't want to."