I was asked recently my thoughts on parental leave by Valerie Khoo who was putting a piece together for the current issue of Latte Magazine – below are my comments – however she also got interesting comments from The Hon Tanya Plibersek and The Hon Julie Bishop…
“I just wonder if we’re asking the right questions. We’ve evolved from an industrial revolution to an information revolution and have not fundamentally thought out how the community is raising the next generation.
I don’t mean to be dramatic but how are we making sure the next generation is more educated and better off than we are? How can we show them that we are improving the planet?
Education is at the source of everything and, in Australia, the majority of our university graduates are women. We’re number one on the planet in terms of educating women in tertiary institutions and yet the participation rate of those women in leadership roles is dire. So we’re spending the money on education but we’re not getting the return out of highly educated people.
I’ve had people say to me: “We should make those stay-at-home mums feel bad.” On the contrary. We shouldn’t make the women who work feel bad!
When it comes to paid parental leave … 18 weeks! Parenting is 18 year job. Paid parental leave isn’t the answer. It’s what we’re doing to make childcare accessible and available to people all the time, without prejudice, whether it’s a mother or father, foster parent, guardian or whatever. Many women miss out of the non-critical, yet still beneficial, aspects of work – the seminars, the conferences, the networking efvents, the breakfasts – because who is going to do the childcare and get the kids to school? Somebody has to pick them up and run them to music lessons and football.
We need to look at what the community is doing to support the growth and care of our children. We need to communities around the planet that have got it rightz. I think we should start looking at Asian communities. We should find out where it’s work anthropologically and what that looks like. Look at what they do well and copy it.
It’s important to recognise that it’s not a women’s issue, it’s a community issue and one that need structural economic reform, especially if you are spending valuable taxpayers dollars educating a populace who are then not contributing to society.”
There are many opinions – I would value your comment on this one….
Avril Bastiansz says
Naomi I love your blog (having only started reading it a few days ago!). Also Love your business and am a HUGE admirer of your energy, enthusiasm and drive! I agree with your views on looking to other communites to learn how they support fworking Mothers & families. After having been a full time Mum for almost 7 years, we bought our own business a couple of years ago and I found myself fully employed. The transition was huge and very very difficult with my youngest just starting Prep. I am a migrant (now Australian) having lived here for 20+ years with no immediate family here. I found it incredibly hard to find support. My Mum came over for 3months to help us when we started off which was amazing. It is such a shame that there isn’t a visa category for me to sponsor my Mum permanently (does not fit the criteria as I have most of my siblings still living overseas). She would have loved to come over as she lives on her own and is reasonably young for a Grandma (65). This woudl have been my forst choice give our financial circumstances a tthe time. We couldn’t afford the before and after school care and I was not comfortable with doing that 5 days a week, after being so hands on with my kids for all those years. So it is a shame that there wasn’t a way for me to have my Mum stay and help permanently. However, we have now found a solution. Living close to one of the big Universities we advertised for a babysitter on a permanent part time basis 4 days per week, pick up from school and care for our kids until we get home from work, which is usually 3.15 – 6:30pm each day. It has been an absolutely fantastic outcome. When I get home everythings organised, readers done, lunch boxes unpacked and washed, uniforms hung up and she even helps with a few chores like unpacking the dishwasher and some preparation for dinner. Of course it costs more, but the benefits are many. My kids love her, she has been a positive influence on them and they are doing well in school (it’s like having a Tutor). And for her, being from another state and boarding in Melbourne (1st year at uni ) great little income and also an avenue to meet people and make friends (like an adopted family) win-win all around. I woudl thouroughly encourage working Mum’s/ families to go for it. There are hundreds of eligable young prople out there looking for part time work (we had at least 4 or 5 applicants)!
Hi I sre would like to shsare my view, I am not in support of mothers who work, as a mother of three boys, I ended up on my own when my youngest was one, I left a d,v, relationship.
i tried working for a period of two years and my experience was, i was too tired to be the mother i wanted to be for my chldren, i was literally burnt out by the end, my eldest ended up in trouble and not only did i become superwoman, but when i left my job to look after my family. I had so many people judge me for beeing a stay home mum..
I couldn’t believe the change in the way people treated me. I was told that i was a drain on society, my sister inlaw said she resented paying tax so i could stay home, said she respected me more when i was workig and ‘HAVING A GO” you have no idea how shattered I was that I was only valued if I was working, she saw no value in being a mum and being there for your children. since then she had a child, and put her in day care at three weeks, went back to her corpoRATe lifestyle and my mother and daycare raise her. this is just one opinion,i had to deal with my father saying the same thing/
these opinions are demorolising and painful. they take away from life, they devalue women who are on their own. the Parenting role is difficult at best, why give us the impossible to do. So after all that judgement, ten years later I am on dsp. diagnosed with ptsd from living in such extreme violence, i barely even get out my door,
thanks for lettting me share my story