Calls for paid leave for Australian parents after miscarriage

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man and women upset about miscarriage

New Zealand parents will have the right to three days of paid leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth, to help them come to terms with their loss without using up sick leave. And it’s prompted renewed calls for Australia to follow suit.

New Zealand’s has parliament unanimously voted to give mums and their partners paid bereavement leave after a pregnancy ends in a stillbirth or miscarriage.

The leave applies to mums and their partners, as well as parents using adoption or surrogacy. It’s understood that India is the only other country in the world to have similar legislation.

“The passing of this bill shows that once again New Zealand is leading the way for progressive and compassionate legislation, becoming only the second country in the world to provide leave for miscarriage and stillbirth,” Labour Party MP Ginny Andersen said. “The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave. Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time.”

Time for change in Australia

Parental leave changes for families of stillborn babies and premmies | Mum's Grapevine

Australian Labor Senator Kristina Keneally, who suffered a stillbirth in 1999, has championed the cause for parents in Australia. “While I can understand that people may instinctively think there’s no need for paid parental leave if a baby has died, I would invite them to consider that it is parental leave, not baby leave, and parents of stillborn babies are parents,” she told SBS News in 2019.

“The mother has given birth and must recover physically. The parents have parental responsibility, like organising autopsies, funerals and burial or cremation. They also are dealing with a singular and profound grief. The simple fact is that parents of stillborn babies are often physically and psychologically incapable of working at any productive capacity in the weeks and months after their baby’s death.”

Last year, the Australian government introduced 12 months of unpaid parental leave for parents after stillbirth or infant death. In Australia, up to one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage and one in every 135 pregnancies that reach 20 weeks will end in a stillbirth.

If you need support please contact Sands Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Newborn Death Support via 1300 072 637.

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