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….