Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1322..
ACT Health has completed all the necessary prerequisites for accreditation including inspection of workplace facilities and payment of the appropriate fees. The process is now waiting on the completion of formal paperwork by the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA).
(2) Of course a greater number of accredited workplaces would be pleasing, although it should be noted that workplaces may provide all the appropriate facilities to support breastfeeding in the workplace without having participated in the formal ABA process. Accordingly the number of workplaces that hold accreditation may not reflect the number of workplaces that support the right of workers to breastfeed in the workplace.
I am however encouraged by the fact that workplaces are beginning to take up their responsibilities to support breastfeeding workers. When the Fifth Assembly was formed in 2001, there were no ABA accredited workplaces in the ACT. Since then, 10 major workplaces have acquired accreditation and ACT Health is operating within the requirements for accreditation with only the formal process to be completed. I am confident that the number of accredited workplaces will continue to increase.
The Member may also wish to note that the 10 ABA accredited workplaces in the ACT represent a third of all the ABA accredited workplaces in Australia. This indicates that while there is still a great deal of work to do in encouraging breastfeeding friendly workplace practices, employers in the ACT are far more willing to recognize their obligations in this area that employers in other States and Territories.
(3) In reply to Question on the Notice No. 904 from Mr Smyth MLA on this same topic, I identified a number of efforts that the Government is undertaking to boost the number of Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces in the ACT.
In terms of what the Government is specifically doing to encourage more businesses to receive accreditation, many of the same initiatives apply. The Member may be aware from my previous reply that in 2004, the ACT Government released the policy Expectant and New Mothers, ACT Workplaces: A guide for employers and employees. I must emphasise that this policy release was not intended solely for use by Government agencies but was intended to provide guidance for employers and employees in the ACT generally. This policy emphasised the basic facts that all women have the right to breastfeed in the workplace if they choose, and that employers have an obligation to facilitate women's ability to do this.
As I noted in my previous reply to Mr Smyth, ABA accreditation is a good way for employers to demonstrate their commitment to breastfeeding and the Government would strongly encourage businesses in the ACT to consider demonstrating their commitment in such a way. However as I noted above, it is entirely possible that many businesses do support the rights of women to breastfeed in the workplace and provide all the staff supports necessary to achieve accreditation, and yet these workplaces have chosen not to seek accreditation.