Unions and community organisations will take part in a national week of action to persuade the Rudd Government to include a universal paid maternity leave scheme in the May federal budget.

In addition to petitioning MPs via postcards and videos, locally based “Your Rights @Work” activists and community supporters of maternity leave are mobilizing this week to meet with federal MPs, hold meetings and other events to keep up the pressure for a universal paid maternity leave scheme.

“Paid maternity leave is an important way to protect Australian women and their families during worsening economic times,” says ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

“In the short term, new parents need to spend money on necessities such as nappies, clothes, furniture and prams. It is a worthwhile measure to help stimulate the economy.

“Over the longer term, paid maternity leave provides income security and gives parents time to bond and care for their newborn babies. It’s also beyond question that it helps women to stay connected to the workforce and retain their skills. This benefits employers and is good for the economy.

“The Rudd Government has acknowledged the facts, and the strength of feeling in the community, and needs to act,” said Ms Burrow. 

The Government is yet to release the details of the Productivity Commission’s final report on introducing a national scheme. An interim report recommended an 18 week scheme, funded primarily by the Federal Government at minimum wage rates covering all working women.

Ms Burrow says such a scheme would be a good start, costing less than $450 million or just 2% more than existing family assistance measures.



NSW, WA, Victoria, Tasmania: Postcard/video campaign and meetings with MPs.

South Australia: a giant pregnant puppet will give birth outside the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.  26th March 12.30pm, Brougham Gardens. Details: SA Unions Janet Giles 0419 825845.

ACT Unions: have released a novelty $20 bill with ‘We Want Paid Maternity Leave in the Next Budget’ marked on the note, which will be distributed to Rudd Government members. Details: Unions ACT 02 6247 7844. 

Victoria: photo opportunity with PML supporters holding up a letter to spell out ‘Put Paid Maternity Leave in the 2009 Federal Budget” Friday 27 March 10.30am. Details: Jennifer O’Donnell-Pirisi 0412 228 247.

NSW: Commuter action days at Central and Parramatta train stations leaflets, local events and meetings with MPs. Details: Unions NSW: Claire Johnston 0434 489 533.

Qld:  Morning tea Friday 27th March Brisbane and other local events. Details:Tania Reeves 07 3846 2468, M: 0418 700 419.

WA: Various activities. Details: Dave Robinson 0417 060 360  or Simone McGurk 0407 199 890.