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Strong policies for maternity leave & childcare.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/1033 FRIDAY 8 OCTOBER 2004 SENATOR NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA CATHERINE OPITZSENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA CANDIDATE FOR MAKINSTRONG POLICIES FOR MATERNITY LEAVE & CHILDCARE The Democrats’ Work and Family policy is the only policy to make the vital links between maternity leave, childcare and other carer roles, such as caring for a family member with a disability, Democrats candidate for Makin Catherine Opitz said. Highlighting the policy while campaigning in Makin, Ms Opitz said the Democrats’ work and family agenda was an important first step in an area where the major parties had failed. "As the effective, sensible balance of power party in the Senate, the Democrats will continue to set the standards for the other parties,” Ms Opitz said. The Democrats' Work and Family Spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, said the Government had refused to recognise that women still faced discrimination and inequality in the workplace as a result of the biological imperative to take time off work if they have a baby. "Two-thirds of working women still have no access to paid leave on the birth of a child," Senator Stott Despoja said. "For working women, 14 weeks of Government-funded paid maternity leave, administered by employers, is a must." In addition to the Democrats' longstanding proposals for universal maternity leave, Ms Opitz also revealed the Democrats' plan for 30 hours free childcare for children up to 5 years of age for parents in work or education, and 10 hours free childcare for families with one non-working parent. The Democrats would also allocate additional funding to support wage increases for childcare workers, to increase incentive for people to become childcare workers, and remain in the industry. "Both the Government and the ALP are throwing money at families but this won't help women who have to return to work directly after giving birth, parents who can't access childcare, and parents and carers who have inflexible work practices. "In this marginal seat campaign, there's been little focus on the pressing needs of workers with families. I am one candidate who has come forward with solutions," Ms Opitz said. Copies of the policy are available from Senator Stott Despoja's office (Ph. 08 8232 7595). Media contact - Catherine Opitz - 0408 803 687