Mothers, fathers, babies, grandparents and community members today protested outside the office of Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, to take a stand against paid parental leave cuts that deprive parents of precious bonding time with their new babies.

The protest was one of many held around the country to coincide with the International Day of the Child, celebrated on 1 June globally.

Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Emma Maiden estimates around 25,500 New South Wales women will be affected by the Paid Parental Leave changes.

“Tony Abbott promised a rolled-gold Paid Parental Scheme. He and Joe Hockey broke that promise and have now gone even further by robbing mothers of up to 18 weeks with their newborns, while calling them “double-dippers”, “frauds” and “rorters”.

We want to make it clear to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey that we won’t forget this slap in the face for working parents and we will keep fighting until the Government backs away from this cutback."

Around 80,000 new mothers are set to lose up to $11,500 each from the claw back, saving the Government an anticipated $1 billion, but many critics say policing the policy will be impossible.

“Many hard-working parents have already bargained in good faith with their employer to reach agreements that will ensure those parents can care for their young family, both emotionally and financially.

 “The suggestion that women are ‘double dipping’ is an insult to working parents and completely misrepresents the nature and design of the scheme,” Ms Maiden said.

The current universal PPL scheme introduced by the previous government was designed as a basic scheme for parents that would be complemented by employer schemes taking women’s wages up to their full salary or adding extra weeks of paid leave.

"Now Abbott and Hockey are holding those agreements to ransom as part of their budget con job on paid parental leave.”

Unions say the teaching and nursing professions will be most affected.

A teacher in a catholic school currently receives the equivalent of 23 weeks of PPL at full pay. Under Tony Abbott’s changes she will drop down to only 14 weeks leave. Far less than Abbott’s original plan that argued the ideal period of leave for mother and baby bonding is 26 weeks, which the World Health Organisation recommends as the ideal time to promote well-being for child and mother.

A review of PPL conducted last year based on a large scale survey of new mothers found small but significant improvements in both mothers and babies health since the introduction of the scheme five years ago.

“Unions and community groups campaigned for the current PPL scheme and we will campaign again for what should be a basic right – to provide the best care for young children.

“The community will be working hard to make the Government see sense on the PPL changes.

Tony Abbott needs to clean up his mess and provide fairness for young families facing financial uncertainty after his unfair cuts to paid parental leave.”

 

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