Friday, October 10, 2008

Give me that leave!

At the moment, the Australian government is providing a maternity allowance or the more popularly known "Baby Bonus." It was intended to help the family for the baby's initial needs like clothes, blankets, cot, feeding bottles, milk, etc. Babies born on or after 1 July 2008 receive AU$5,000, which is regularly adjusted for inflation rate.

When Kimi was born 7 months ago, we applied to receive this assistance. The form was enclosed in a kit given by the hospital together with the birth registration application forms, and immunisation information. The application form is a bit lengthy as you need to establish a Centrelink/Family Assistance case account/number. It required visa and passport details, income details, bank details, spouse details, and of course the baby's details and the proof of the child's birth registration. So, we submitted the birth registration form of Kimi prior to applying the "baby bonus." At that time, we got roughly AU$4,100. We put it in Kimi's bank account, reserving for his future needs espcecially for his education. It was a good incentive and a good assistance to starting families especially to new migrants.

However, there is still lacking. There is no paid maternity leave yet put in place. For a developed country, it is quite surprising since even less developed countries have at least 30 days of paid maternity leave. Philippines has 60 days paid maternity leave; Indonesia has 3 months; Bangladesh has 12 weeks; and the list goes on. I reckon it is time for Australia to make the big leap of mandating paid maternity leave, which at the moment is only offered by bigger companies as benefits to their employees. This big move will encourage more women to have kids and will create a more nurturing environment for babies and families.

So, please give mothers and soon-to-be-mums that 18 weeks of paid maternity leave!

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