Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fathers matter too

Its nice to read an article with a positive view of fatherhood. It relates to the current Productivity Commission inquiry into paid parental leave and also relates to another post about lobbying the federal sex discrimination commissioner- GR Klein

Article from The Daily Telegraph May 23, 2008

THE stereotype of the father being a bystander in his baby's life could be changed forever if paid paternity leave were introduced.

Researchers told the Productivity Commission inquiry into paid parental leave that workplace practices need to change so fathers feel good about taking time off for their child.

"This is a key issue that hasn't been tacked onto the discussions (about maternity leave)," said fatherhood expert Richard Fletcher, from the University of Newcastle.

Mr Fletcher said, while research shows that more than 90 per cent of people surveyed believe men and women should have equal roles, men still find it difficult to get time off.

"Fathers don't know much about how to do it. They don't see it is important for them to interact with their baby," Mr Fletcher said.

"We hear stories of dads with babies in intensive care whose bosses won't let them take more than three days off."

He said calling the time off "paternal leave" and paying men to take time off would loosen up the stereotype and enable fathers to become more involved in their infant's life.

"It wouldn't cure it . . . but it would help," he said.

National Secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union John Sutton spoke at the Commission in Melbourne and said his male-dominated industry welcomed the idea of paternity leave.

Many employers still scoffed at men needing to take leave, he said.

The CFMEU was calling for government-funded maternity and paternity leave, with up to 26 weeks for women and four weeks for men.

Gary Butler, 30, of Padstow, took six weeks' long-service leave for the birth of his first child Zoe, now 11 months old, and he visits her every lunchtime in her city-based childcare centre.

"I saved up my long-service leave and, given the chance, I wouldn't have gone back until I had to.

"A few of my friends are like me, but I do see that is unusual," he said.

His wife Gia Rebello said having Gary home for six weeks made the world of difference and Gary said it meant he was able to bond with his daughter on a different level.

"There were times when Gia was getting exhausted and I was able to take Zoe for a walk."

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