The Government’s Paid Parental Leave changes in this year’s Australian Federal Government and the language they had used have left many mother’s feeling demonised and angry. *Mel wanted us to share her story as a pregnant mum celebrating Mother’s Day and hearing the announcement that mothers accessing government Paid Parental Leave and employer Paid Parental Leave (PPL) were ‘double-dippers’. Here is her story: “How dare you silence me with shame.”
This mothers day was my first. Well, not technically considering I am currently pregnant, but all first time mothers know that you include this mothers day! I had a marvelous day with my parents and sister with her rowdy bunch of kids, and came home to a brand new nursing chair hubby had bought as a surprise. It took him two whole episodes of Downton Abbey to assemble. As we relaxed and enjoyed this moment, we watched as PPL was discussed on the news. I looked down at my belly and immediately thought, “thank goodness I haven’t submitted my leave forms yet, I’m only going to be able to take 6 months off now.” Then anxiety set in for a week until it was clarrified that I would not be affected. This time.
When I was 15, I decided that I when I grew up I would be the breadwinner and my partner would share responsibilities for the early years of child rearing by working part time while I returned to work full time. I grew up believing women must be financially independent so that no man could ever accuse them of being ‘used’ (she’s got problems? I hear you!). Once I was in uni, I learnt about leave options and maternity leave. My coworker at my first full time role fell pregnant and as their was no maternity leave or PPL, she returned to work 6 weeks after the emergency C – section. I thought there has to be an easier way. I discovered that some companies had paid maternity leave schemes while most didn’t, and often within the same company only a permanent staff member of over 12 months was eligible for PPL, not contracted staff members. I’m not sure if some people are aware, but securing a permanent role is extremely difficult. As a 21 year old, I decided that I would work as hard as possible to get in a position where I was eligible for maternity leave and have the ability to take one year off work. I worked for 10 years plus a Degree to get into that position. I did not ‘fall into it’. I was not ‘one of the lucky ones’. So as I planned my life around being a parent who could provide, this included the Baby Bonus or PPL complementing my paid leave from my employer.
When the announcement came on my first mothers day that as a ‘double dipper’, I was devastated. I thought I was being a good parent by planning and providing that way that I was trying to. I was doing what was I was LEGALLY entitled to. Accepting PPL to complement my employers leave was in the plan for years. It has been going on for years, it has supported thousands of families and it was NOT WRONG. But the language has changed and now I sit here silenced as a fraudster a scammer and a rorter. Silenced by shame. Who flipped the switch?
And just quietly, Mr Joe Hockey, pot calling the kettle black.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY2T_fDQi4g – (George Double Dipping)
*Mel’s name is not her real name and we have changed it to protect her from the public shame of being a ‘double-dipper’.