Labor pledges greater support for first-time parents

First-time parents will get greater access to postnatal support groups and more time with their newborn baby under a $33.7 million election sweetener from Labor.

The parenting package will include $26.7 million in funding for more support groups so both parents can learn about their baby’s needs and the transition to parenthood.

Premier Daniel Andrews and his wife, Catherine, meet Cody Davis at Monash Children’s Hospital earlier this month. Daniel Pockett

Labor is also promising to increase parental leave for more parents by offering employers a tax break so that workers can spend more time with their child.

Premier Daniel Andrews has pledged to boost support group sessions for first-time parents by 40 per cent and make them available at convenient times for both parents, if Labor wins the election on Saturday.

These sessions are typically available to the primary carer of a newborn, usually the mother, through local councils.

These groups allow parents to ask questions and share experiences about raising children but are usually attended by just one parent. Labor wants to provide more opportunities for both parents to attend the group sessions.

As part of the package, parents will receive more support from maternal and childhood health nurses, with an additional six hours of guidance across three sessions.

Labor will encourage employers to give parents more time with their newborn children by providing a payroll tax exemption for paternity leave. If elected on Saturday, Labor will contribute $7 million towards the payroll tax exemption.

Labor described the current system of parental leave as outdated.

“There’s no logical reason why parents’ leave for mums and dads shouldn’t be treated equally, but sadly there are still many employers who don’t offer equal parental leave and too often same-sex couples and single parents miss out,” a Labor statement said.

Mr Andrews said the early days in a child’s life were an important time for families.

“It’s only right that all Victorians can access the parental leave they need to make the most of this special time,” he said. “This package means more nurses, more support and greater peace of mind for mums and dads across Victoria.”

In recent weeks Labor has pitched multiple election promises at parents of young children, including free installation of car seats. It has also promised greater access to IVF services for people who want to start families.