The federal Senate has passed an historic change to the Fair Work Act on Tuesday, designed to give parents who experience a miscarriage two days of paid bereavement leave.
The paid bereavement leave is designed to be accessible for all employees covered under the Fair Work Act, and includes access to leave for the partner of a woman who has had a miscarriage.
The amendment was first introduced to the Senate in June by Attorney-General Michaelia Cash, with Senate debating, and passing, the bill on Tuesday.
Miscarriage and pregnancy loss charity The Pink Elephants Support Network has been lobbying for the introduction of paid bereavement leave for parents for years, and said the Senate passing the amendment this week is a huge step in the right direction.
“Today we have seen miscarriage brought out of the shadows & debated in parliament,” Pink Elephants said in a statement.
“Turning a blind eye to the true trauma & emotional distress our community faces is no longer ok. It’s time to RIGHT the story & this incredible legacy changing bill is a HUGE step in the right direction.”
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Senator Hollie Hughes, who has supported the introduction of paid bereavement leave for miscarriage, told Parliament it was appropriate to recognise the very real grief parents feel. She also noted it was important the leave covered both parents, not just mothers.
“When it does occur, people often fail to recognise the real grief that is being felt, they make comments like ‘lucky it happened early’ or ‘maybe there was something wrong with it’,” Hughes said in a speech in parliament.
“While we should always remember that the physical loss is experienced by the mother, partners also feel the grief around the loss of that child.”
When the amendment to the Fair Work Act was first introduced to parliament in June, Samantha Payne, CEO of Pink Elephants told Women’s Agenda, it felt like validation for parents.
“We’re feeling incredibly joyful and grateful today. What this means for our community is validation, that miscarriage matters, and that we are entitled to grieve the loss of their babies,” Payne said.
“Because without this, what’s happening is that women and their partners are being minimised by their experience of loss, and not grieving and not accessing support. We then end up with really poor mental health outcomes like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“As a tiny, grassroots organisation, it’s a win. We’ve brought miscarriage out of the shadows, into the spotlight. This will open up the door for so many more conversations around how we better, as a nation, support women and their partners, whose babies die to miscarriage.”