Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Evaluation of Australia’s national Paid Parental Leave scheme

The Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) will head a team of nineteen leading academics to undertake a comprehensive and independent evaluation of the Gillard Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

The evaluation will use surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups to canvass the views and experiences of employers, parents and prospective parents from across Australia.

The Government has committed $2.7 million to the ISSR to examine whether the Paid Parental Leave scheme is expected to achieve its long-term objectives, including improving maternal and child health and development, encouraging workforce participation, and promoting gender quality and work-family balance.

The ISSR, based at the University of Queensland, brings together key academics from five institutions who have expertise in the fields of gender equality and work-family balance, labour force participation, maternal and child health and development, evaluation research methods, statistics and survey design.

This external and independent evaluation will inform the Government’s planned review of the new Paid Parental Leave scheme, starting two years after the scheme commences.

In May 2009 when the Government announced the introduction of the scheme, it also made a commitment to undertake a comprehensive review. A review was also recommended by the Productivity Commission.

The Government’s scheme provides up to 18 weeks’ government-funded parental leave pay at the National Minimum Wage (currently $570 per week) for eligible parents of children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2011.

With the introduction of the first national Paid Parental Leave scheme, Australia has finally caught up with the rest of the developed world on this vital reform. Parents will get more support to stay home with a new baby, and children will get the best start in life.