Victoria pledges $232 million support to families with newborns
The Victorian Government has pledged a $232 million comprehensive package of new support for parents of newborns, which would include extra funding for parenting groups, Maternal and Child Health nurse visits, sleep support, new early parenting centres across the state, and payroll tax exemptions for all paid parental leave.
The pledge comes ahead of the Victorian state election this weekend.
The investment would go toward seven new early parenting centres, the refurbishment of two more, and deliver a range of critical services, and more support at home to help more than 4,500 Victorian families every year.
Victorian Minister for Early Childhood Jenny Mikakos said “These centres play a critical role in making sure new parents are getting the advice they need, including support with sleeping, feeding and extra care for babies with additional needs.”
Ms Mikakos also said that, because the most stressful time for sleep-deprived parents is often the middle of the night, Labor would fund a revamped 24-hour phone line with specialists in sleep and settling issues.
The government would also boost the number of home visits for vulnerable families, with 7,000 families to receive more support; and, first aid training to around 26,000 parents per year.
“We also want to encourage more employers to offer paternity leave – that’s why if re-elected we’ll legislate to replace the payroll tax exemption for maternity leave with an exemption for all paid parental leave, to recognise that this is important time that a parent should use to spend with their newborn child,” Ms Mikakos said.
Labor will boost the number of parent group sessions for first time mums and dads by 40 per cent, with the extra sessions at convenient times for both parents, focussing on sleep and the transition to parenthood. The Parenthood has welcomed the Victorian Government’s commitment if re-elected.
“When my first baby was born, I had no idea what was happening. My son and I struggled to breastfeed and this caused issues with sleep and eventually my own mental wellbeing. We were well-supported by family and friends, but many, many families don’t and that lack of support can be very distressing for new mums and dads,” The Parenthood’s Executive Director Alys Gagnon said.
The Parenthood particularly welcomes Victorian Labor’s announcement that they will offer a payroll exemption to business’ that provide parental leave for dads and partners.
“Early bonding with a baby is critical to the wellbeing of a child and as a community we should be supporting dads and partners to spend as much time with their new baby as possible, developing a relationship with a child in their own right and supporting the baby’s primary carer in those first weeks,” Ms Gagnon said.