Wednesday, 17 March 2021
Domestic and Family Violence: Paid Parental Leave
Amani Haydar lives in my electorate. Six years ago her mum was murdered by her father. She was stabbed 30 times in front of Amani's younger sister. At the time, Amani was five months pregnant. With her father in prison and her mum in a grave, Amani left work and went back home to look after what was left of the family, her younger sisters. Later that year, Amani gave birth to a beautiful, healthy young baby girl. When she later applied for paid parental leave, she got rejected by Centrelink. Why? Why would that be the case? It was because she hadn't worked the required 100 days under the work test to get paid parental leave; she'd only worked 95 days. So, to get paid parental leave under the work test, you have to work 100 days while you're pregnant. The only two exemptions to that are if you have a pregnancy related illness or if you have a premature birth. There is no exemption for domestic violence—but there should be. Amani eventually did get paid parental leave after she contacted me and I lobbied on her behalf—she also contacted the then Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter—and she's grateful for that. I'm grateful for that. But the law is still the same. It hasn't changed.
I spoke in this place almost three years ago urging the government to act and to change the law so that there is an exemption to the work test for women experiencing domestic violence. That hasn't happened yet. Earlier this year I wrote again to the new Minister for Social Services, Anne Ruston, urging her to act, asking her to make this change to the law. I haven't heard anything back—not yet—but I'm hopeful. So I use this opportunity to beg the government to please act here. This is a real and simple change to the law that can help women who are pregnant experiencing domestic violence—people like Amani. Please, please make this simple change to the law. Please act.