Thursday 20th October 2016
The country’s biggest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is re-issuing its warnings about the wide-range of detrimental impacts that cuts to paid parental leave (PPL) would have on mothers and their babies.
It follows reports that Federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter will attempt to introduce a Bill which will strip working women across Australia of publicly-funded PPL – which ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas fears will result in many mothers being forced to return to work too early.
“Our members cannot believe that despite all the warnings from health professionals about the dangers of reducing the time Mothers should spend with their newborns, the Government is getting ready to take the axe to the paid parental scheme,” Ms Thomas.
“On Mother’s Day last year, the Government offended Australian mums by describing women who legitimately accessed their employer entitlements, in addition to the Commonwealth-funded scheme, as double dippers and rorters. The Government scheme was designed to complement paid and unpaid leave arrangements negotiated by workers and their unions to give new mums and babies as close to 26 weeks at home with their baby.
“But despite the justifiable backlash the Government copped over those disgraceful comments, it now appears that Christian Porter is at it again. As nurses and midwives, we all know the health benefits for both mothers and their babies, if new mums can stay at home longer. They can bond with their babies, breast feed for longer and not be stressed about returning to work. In fact, the World Health Organisation recommends 26 weeks leave of paid leave, but if the Government gets its way, some new mums will be forced to return to work earlier than planned, family budgets will be placed under pressure, and stressful decisions may be forced on families after 18 weeks.
“The Coalition’s PPL policy promised that it would deliver a genuine paid parental leave scheme to give mothers six months’ leave based on their actual wage to help women to take time out of the workforce to establish a family while reducing financial pressures. So why the change, Mr Porter?
“Nurses and midwives strongly support Government and workplace policies which support women, families and communities and which ultimately assist us to build a better society; PPL is a key component of this policy structure. To nurses and midwives it is straightforward, maximising PPL for Australian families means bringing out the best in our community, it simply makes sense.
“That’s why the ANMF and our members are urging Senators to reject any Bill the Government attempts to push through Parliament which aims to cut back on PPL and hurt working women and their families.
“Only the Senate stands between this Government’s continued attacks on working women, their babies and their family security.”