Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3617 ..
contributes to. All too often miscarriage is described as a medical condition, a description that does not capture the emotional impact that such an event brings, a description that does not capture the invasive medical procedures that are sometimes required.
I do not blame the friendly doctors who write this on the medical certificates. They are trying to help in any way that they can to enable the mother and their partner to access personal leave, to take some time to recover physically and emotionally, time to heal in response to the cruel odds of chance. That is what employees require to get through these traumatic and life-changing events: time.
But not all employees have access to this time. They may not have sufficient personal leave balances, particularly as this life stage is often full of other medical appointments and absences. Those employees without time must return to work, hiding their emotional wounds as they return to the workplace. I will leave it to you to imagine what their productivity must be like as they do so, as they consider the nature of life, death, chance and what could have been—the cutting short of dreams and hopes. Employees are not robots or automatons; they are people with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. And during events of this nature they need time.
The Greens aspire for the ACT government to lead Australia in best practices when it comes to the legislation, implementation and enforcement of workplace laws. We want our industrial relations policies and practices to offer conditions that attract and retain quality staff and respect and support staff in their times of grief and difficulty. This is about creating human workplaces, caring and generous workplaces. This means making sure that all proposed enterprise agreements are reviewed to ensure these provisions for stillbirth and miscarriage are clear and consistent and also meet international best practice. We also want to see the conversation extended beyond just the ACT government.
I was glad Mrs Jones referred to the Pink Elephant initiatives earlier, because we want to see other employers here in the ACT provide this time to their employees—private sector employers, non-government organisations, anyone who says they value their employees. Here is an opportunity to provide the critical support they can to their employees during what is a very difficult part of their lives, and that is time.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (3.25): I thank Mrs Jones for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. I acknowledge Ms Lee’s advocacy on this matter and her personal experience of loss. I am sure that she would have liked to be in the chamber today to formally move the motion. I wish her a speedy return.
The ACT government understands the importance of supporting parents in tragic circumstances of stillbirth and miscarriage. As Minister Stephen-Smith has outlined, compassionate leave for miscarriage and stillbirth already exists within the ACT public sector and this entitlement is being clarified in the current enterprise