Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 934 ..
Another area of concern that has emerged in recent weeks is the women’s accommodation at the AMC, the Alexander Maconochie Centre. The minister has admitted that there have been times when 32 women have been housed in an accommodation facility with 29 beds and they are then spilling out into other areas of the prison which, I want to clarify, he has made very clear are not male areas but, nonetheless, they are not built for purpose.
I also note that the government spent $7 million expanding accommodation and work industry facilities for the men in the prison, yet failed at the time to consider and have a plan for the needs of women and their accommodation. That is not okay. How are these administrative decisions in alignment with the ACT women’s plan?
I am confident that the Minister for Women would agree with me that these situations that have been highlighted reflect agencies currently not in alignment with the women’s plan.
Lastly, let me address an area of interest to the many women in the ACT who choose to have children. I commend the ACT government over the last many years for leading the nation in providing breastfeeding rooms in ACT government departments. However, I understand that a number of these rooms have no lock on the door. One point which needs to be made very clearly—and any mother hearing this will understand—is that when one is breast pumping, one is semi-naked. For those who do not know, I have brought in a breast pump to show you.
MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones—
MRS JONES: This is required in order to breast pump—
MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones, please sit down.
MRS JONES: Can you stop the clock, please?
MADAM SPEAKER: Yes; please stop the clock. I have been very clear on this: props are not encouraged. I think you have made your point. I ask that you remove it, as I asked Mr Rattenbury to remove a prop before. Thank you, Mrs Jones.
MRS JONES: When one is breast pumping, one is half-naked. The pump attaches to the chest. Therefore, to have privacy assured, there has to be a lock on the door, as per any other personal ablutions where one is half-naked. If women are not confident of their privacy, they will be reluctant to breast pump. Given how the let-down works in the breast pumping physical reality, if a woman is nervous or stressed, it can affect milk let-down. Pumping is a more common experience in the workplace than breastfeeding a baby, because it allows women with less than six months of properly paid maternity leave to continue supplying breast milk to their babies after return to work if they leave them in some form of child care.
I therefore would like to go back to what the OECD said: young women are the group with the greatest untapped potential in Australia. How can we tap into this potential when we cannot guarantee the privacy and dignity of breast-pumping women?