Breastfeeding and young children can be admitted to Parliament under major new laws
- MEPs can bring young children to work and breast or bottle feed under new laws
- Mothers-to-be may take a maximum of 20 weeks of maternity leave
- The South Australian government passed the new laws on Thursday
- Attorney General Vickie Chapman has said the laws will modernize parliament
Babies and breastfeeding are allowed in South Australia’s House of Representatives under new laws passed Thursday.
Male and female MPs can take their young children to hearings, while mothers-to-be have been given 20 weeks of paid maternity leave without the need for weekly permission from the House.
Deputy Prime Minister Vickie Chapman said the changes will make the South Australian Parliament a more ‘family-friendly’ workplace and help new parents find a better work-life balance.
Senator Larissa Waters (pictured) became the first breastfeeding woman in parliament in 2017
“A desire for a family should not prevent women or men from entering politics,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chapman.
“It is really time for these rules to change to bring our Parliament into line with the expectations of the modern workplace.
I hope it sends a signal to aspiring young politicians in this state that your family life is important and that there is room for you.
South Australia’s Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister Vickie Chapman (pictured) said the new law would modernize parliament and help young parents find a better work-life balance
In February 2016, changes were made to the federal parliament to allow male and female MPs to bring children into the chamber, if they were their first-line caregiver.
Breastfeeding was also allowed, as Senator Larissa Waters became the first woman to nurse her baby in the federal parliament in 2017.
The Queensland mother proudly breastfed her two-month-old daughter, Alia, while passing a Senate motion on black lung disease.
New law allows MPs to take their children to the House of Representatives, allows breastfeeding and gives expectant mothers up to 20 weeks of paid maternity leave
The new laws come as female politicians across the country continue to expose the repeated mistreatment of women in parliament.
Last month, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins claimed she was raped in 2019 by a senior colleague in the office of Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds.
Her allegations have led to further claims of sexual misconduct within parliament, prompting an independent investigation into workplace culture.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins will lead the investigation and has said current and former employees will have the opportunity to participate in the review.
Ms. Jenkins said she hopes the inquiry will “lay the groundwork for long-term positive cultural reforms that will make parliament safe and respectful.”