Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Helping new mothers spend time with their baby

The latest snapshot of birth trends in Australia highlights the need for the Australian Government’s national Paid Parental Leave scheme – with 292,156 women giving birth to 296,925 babies in 2008.

The report, Australia’s Mothers and Babies 2008, by the Australian Institute of Welfare, shows while the baby boom slowed slightly in 2008, the number of women giving birth remains high.

Australia’s first national Paid Parental Leave scheme comes into effect in just over a month from January 1, and parents are being urged to get their applications in now for babies born early next year.

We know how busy it can be for new parents when a baby arrives, so to make things easier, parents can lodge their claims up to three months before their baby’s due date.

More than 2,500 applications for Paid Parental Leave have already been received from parents expecting a baby in the new year.

The Australian Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme will give babies the best start in life.

It will give more parents the financial security to spend time at home with their new baby in the critical early months. It will give mothers time to recover from the birth, bond with their baby and establish breastfeeding where possible.

The Government’s scheme meets the challenges and realities of modern family life and will help parents to balance their work and family responsibilities.

Our scheme will also help women stay connected to the workforce, and increase workforce participation.

The scheme provides up to 18 weeks of Government-funded parental leave pay at the National Minimum Wage (currently $570 per week before tax).

It is estimated that 148,000 families each year will be eligible for Paid Parental Leave.

The scheme is available for eligible working parents – including those working full-time, part-time, casually or the self-employed – who are the primary carers of children born or adopted from 1 January 2011.

This is a historic reform that Australian families have been waiting decades for.