Gay couples included in new paid parental leave legislation
Australia’s welfare system recognised today that same-sex couples need as much support as straight couples when a new child arrives.
Legislation narrowly passed by the house of representatives will make ‘Dad and Partner Pay’ – two weeks paid leave at the minimum wage – available to the partners of birth mothers or the ‘primary care giver’ in the case of adoption.
Since January 2011, birth mothers and primary care givers have got 18 weeks paid parental leave in Australia. The change in law for fathers and partners will come into effect in January 2013.
The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said when she announced the new legislation:
‘This is good for dads, it’s good for mums, and it helps give babies the best start in life… This new financial support will be especially important for dads and partners who work in casual jobs without annual leave entitlements, and self-employed people such as tradespeople, small business owners and farmers.’
Same-sex marriage advocates Australian Marriage Equality welcomed the announcement.
‘We thank the Federal Government for recognising that all new parents, including those in same-sex relationships, can do with a little help when a new baby arrives,’ said spokesperson Alex Greenwich.
‘The need to bond with a newborn, and the financial stresses having a newborn can give rise to, are the same for all parents, regardless of their gender.’
Greenwich added that the ‘logical extension of the Government’s support for families headed by same-sex couples’ would be to allow them to marry.
‘All Australian children, including those being raised by same-sex couples, benefit from the stability, security and recognition that having married parents can bring,’ Greenwich said.