This is what being a working mum in Australia is really like.
When I had my child two years ago, I was back at work full-time at 8-weeks. Like many working mums, I pretended that everything was a breeze. But in truth, at the best moments it was difficult, and at the worst, it was horrible.
When you’re balancing full-time work with parenting a newborn, everything is that bit tougher. Feeding is harder. Travelling is a nightmare (I need to be in Canberra 22 weeks a year). You’re not getting the sleep you need. And there are times you are painfully aware you are not providing the care you want for yourself, or your child.
So any policy which might force mums back to work when they’re not ready, I’m going to stand up and fight against.
When the government announced in its Budget this week that it would strip back paid parental leave to the bare minimum for many more working mums, I was incredibly angry. About half of new mums will be worse off, many losing months of maternity leave. About 34,000 mums will lose access to the government scheme entirely, leaving them $11,500 worse off.
Just a few months ago we were debating how to improve support to parents after the birth of their child! I thought we’d settled this with a policy where the government provided minimum leave, and employers topped it up. I guess I had that wrong.
Labor will not back these changes that will limit the time mums spend with their newborns – and we never will.
Yesterday’s budget also included changes to childcare.
Australia’s childcare system needs reform, there’s no doubt about that. It’s challenging to get a place (we’ve been on the waiting list for the community centre closest to our home for almost a year now – and bub’s three days of care are split across two different centres), and virtually impossible to find flexibility. When you need to change your childcare days, many families wait for months.