Zali's Paid Parental Leave Petition on behalf of Warringah constituents

7 September 2022

I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents Peta and Shane Arthurson, who are here today.

The petition read as follows—

The Australian Parental Leave Pay (PLP) policy is currently up to 18 weeks paid at minimum wage. The WHO and UNICEF recommendations for breastfeeding of infants, is for children to be exclusively breastfed for 6 months. One of the main objectives of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond; is to increase the population of babies who are exclusively breastfed to around 6 months of age by 2025, particularly in priority populations and vulnerable groups. The most recent ABS Breastfeeding report shows that at 4 months of age 61% of children were exclusively breastfed but at 6 months of age this dramatically drops to only 29% of children who were exclusively breastfeeding. There is strong evidence from diverse countries that longer duration of paid maternity leave increases breastfeeding duration and improves maternal health. Increasing access to paid maternity leave will have a direct positive impact on these national and worldwide health objectives. This structural policy change is in the direct ability of the Commonwealth Government to achieve.

We therefore ask the House to immediately increase of the Australian Parental Leave Pay (PLP) Policy from 18 weeks to 26 weeks in line with the WHO recommendations and Australian national breastfeeding objectives.

From 8,461 citizens (Petition No. EN4056)

Petition received.

This petition asks the House to immediately increase the Australian paid parental leave policy from 18 to 26 weeks in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF and the goals of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy, which aim to increase the population of children exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives. Much of the paid parental leave debate centres on the economic benefits of increasing the generosity of the scheme, as it would increase women's workforce participation.

This petition and 8,461 signatories argue for this change from an equally, if not more, compelling angle: the health of our children. Evidence from the ABS shows that there is a sharp drop-off in breastfeeding rates after paid parental leave finishes. So increasing paid parental leave is essential for the health of our children and our economic prosperity.

I urge the government to do more than just acknowledge the recommendation and the push at the recent Jobs and Skills Summit to increase parental leave to 26 weeks and, in fact, to implement, without delay, 26 weeks of paid parental leave. I commend this petition to the House.