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Monday, 23 October 2017
Page: 11440

Paid Parental Leave

Dear Mr Vasta

Thank you for your letter of 20 June 2017 regarding petition number EN0172 about the Australian Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme.

The petition calls for changes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme to allow men to apply for Parental Leave Pay as the sole carer of their child, regardless of the mother's circumstances.

The provision of Parental Leave Pay under the Paid Parental Leave Scheme is primarily intended to help support mothers to take time out of the workforce to care for their newborn or recently adopted child. It also aims to enhance the health and development of the child and to allow time for the mother to recover from the child's birth. Based on these objectives, the scheme gives eligible mothers the initial entitlement to Parental Leave Pay but allows them to transfer the entitlement to eligible partners who take on the role of primary carer.

The requirement in the scheme for a mother to have primary eligibility for Parental Leave Pay is based on the view that a mother needs time to recover from the birth and bond with her baby, and that the mother has a unique capacity to breastfeed her baby, with the health and other benefits this has for the mother and child.

I note the view that equal access for men and women to Parental Leave Pay will allow each family to decide what is best for them. However, this approach would not meet two of the primary objectives of the scheme: to support mothers to take time off work after the birth of their child and to encourage women's continued workforce participation.

Thank you for raising this matter with me.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Social Services, Mr Porter