Target: Australian Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin
Goal: Commend Australian government for providing paid parental leave for fathers and same-sex partners.
The Australian government has introduced a new policy that will give non-birth parents two weeks of pay after the birth of a child. The policy is meant to include not only fathers but partners in same-sex relationships and adoptive parents. It also targets those who are self-employed by paying parents to stay home with their newborn children instead of requiring companies to grant their employees paid leave. The Australian government should be commended for including same-sex partners as eligible recipients, and acknowledging that the birth mother is not the only person whose care is necessary in the early weeks of a child’s life.
Although around 50 countries in addition to Australia offer paid paternity leave, not many apply that parental leave to same-sex couples. In the United States, federal parental leave laws not only fail to require companies to pay for any of the father’s leave, but also fail to ensure payment for the small amount of required maternity leave. This results in many new parents either going into debt to provide care or denying the newborn optimal care. Australia’s new law, however, highlights the importance of fathers and non-birth parents taking part in the responsibilities of parenting and the need for babies to bond with both parents in the first few weeks of life.
Australia only recently updated their laws to require companies to provide new mothers with some amount of paid leave. The country has now taken those benefits a step further by extending the paid leave to include fathers and partners of the child’s primary parent. This reflects a more modern view of parenting as a job not exclusively done by the mother, and is more inclusive of the country’s LGBT population. Australia should be applauded for making this transition, and other countries that have not yet caught up to these standards must follow their lead.
Dear Minister Macklin,
I would like to commend you for introducing the new policy that offers fathers and same-sex partners paid parental leave in the early weeks after the birth of a child. This legislation demonstrates the importance of including fathers in the parenting process and is unique in its inclusion of same-sex partners.
This change in parental leave is a step forward for women’s rights and LGBT rights, in addition to taking into account those who do not depend on companies for their income. Thank you for acknowledging that the work of parenting is often fulfilled not only by mothers, but by fathers and partners. I hope other countries that are still behind in these areas will take your cue and consider the needs of new parents and their children.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sukanto Debnath via Flickr.