“The use of parental leave by fathers and male partners in Australia is very low by global standards,” CEO of Parents at Work Emma Walsh says. “We lag [behind] the [rest of the] world on Paid Parental Leave. Not only was Australia one of the last countries to introduce a policy, but we currently offer one of the least generous schemes.”
In a new article in the September 2019 issue of Marie Claire, Emma discusses the need for parental leave equality in Australia and how ‘dividing the roles of parents into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’, as Australia does, is emblematic of an outdated approach that reinforces the ‘breadwinner/homemaker’ gender divide.’
The article also interviews several Australian fathers, including Sam Wood, on their varying experiences with taking parental leave and being at home after the birth of their children.
“I’ve got a new baby coming very soon, so this time around I’m going to try to take off as much time as I can,” Sam says. “I appreciated that more than ever during those early stages after [daughter] Willow’s birth. And I absolutely want to embrace that again. I would really encourage any dad to take off as much time as possible. You and your partner really do need each other – and there’s nowhere else that you’d want to be.”
However for many fathers, parental leave isn’t an option, even when it is a policy at their workplace. The stigma around dads taking leave unfortunately still exists in many organisations. Tom, another dad interviewed in the article, shares his negative experience in attempting to take parental leave. His boss told him, “We have that policy, but no dads have actually used it – it wouldn’t be good for your career”. The expectation at his workplace around parental leave was that it was only for women.
Quotes and excerpts taken from ‘Parental Leave Equality: Why It’s Time To Deliver For Dads’ by Georgie Dent and Luke Benedictus, Marie Claire, September 2019.