Understanding Paid Parental Leave For Parents of Babies Born Premature or Unwell


What are your experiences of paid parental leave in Australia and the financial impact of having a baby requiring neonatal intensive or special care after birth?

We want to hear from families who have experienced a baby being in neonatal intensive care or special care. We need your help with our life changing research to improve the future for Australian families who with a premature or sick newborn in the NICU or SCN 

As Australia’s leading organisation supporting premature and sick newborns, their families and the hospitals that care for them, Miracle Babies Foundation has long recognised a gap in paid parental support for these families.

Miracle Babies is continuing to advocate for improvements to the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave legislation, to better accommodate families with a sick or premature baby in hospital. We have partnered with the Centre of Research Excellence for Newborn Medicine at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and The University of Melbourne have collaborated to undertake an important research study.

The survey closes soon. So, if you're interested, you can complete it by CLICKING HERE 

We need to support families to be with their premature or sick babies during the first year of development. Current parental leave legislation in Australia does not take into account that many parents of premature or sick babies may spend weeks or months with their baby in hospital. This means that some parents are having to go back to work whilst their baby is still in hospital, take leave without pay or are forced to resign from their jobs. This has huge financial impact on families who are already under increased stress,” says Associate Professor Alicia Spittle from the Centre of Research Excellence for Newborn Medicine at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

This project is about understanding your experiences of receiving Australian Government or industry paid parental leave schemes in Australia and the financial impact of having a baby or babies needing to be hospitalised for longer than expected after being born. We plan to use this information to help ask for changes to paid parental leave policies around Australia.

Watch the short video to learn more:

Take part in the paid parental leave survey


More background on the new research study:

Every year in Australia more than 48,000 newborn babies require the help of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN). For these families, the experience of having a baby come into the world not as expected or planned is life changing. Caring for these babies creates increased financial, emotional, and time investment for parents. These families, often, find themselves needing to take leave from work unexpectedly and much earlier than anticipated.

In Australia, current parental leave allows employees to take time away from work for the birth of their children. Eligible employees who are the primary carer of a newborn receive up to 18 weeks' paid parental leave at the national minimum wage. In addition to this, eligible working dads and partners (including same-sex partners) get two weeks leave paid at the national minimum wage (Reference: Fair Work Ombudsman - Parental Leave).

Research conducted by Miracle Babies Foundation found 83% of families surveyed experienced additional financial impacts on their family above the normal expected impact of having a newborn as a result of having a baby born requiring specialised hospital care.

"Being able to be with your child while they are in NICU is a total necessity. If I had been in the position that I had to return to work after the Centrelink payments were up my daughter would have been equivalent to a 2 month old baby. There is nothing that is ok about a parent leaving a vulnerable baby at that age because of financial reasons. Health and emotional reasons are at the heart here." - Miracle parent from the survey

Off the back of our initial survey, which highlighted the strong need for improved paid parental leave, we lobbied the federal government with a signed petition of 5917 names calling for more to be done.

"I lost 10+ weeks of paid work (being casual with set hours each week) due to having bubs born at 25 weeks. We lived an hour away from the hospital. This put extra strain on our financial position and time spent with bubs. Extra help from the government would have helped even if it was just a little bit."  Miracle parent from the survey.

While we have gained incredible changes to the unpaid parental leave scheme, we know Australia is falling behind other OECD countries when it comes to best practice regarding paid parental leave for families of sick or premature newborns; with New Zealand already providing extra paid parental leave for premature babies.

 “Miracle Babies Foundation is calling on the Commonwealth Government to make priority a review of current legislation on paid parental leave, taking into consideration family needs for premature and sick babies and work to improve paid parental leave for NICU/SCN parents. We want to see parliamentary consultation and conversation about this issue that can accommodate more for these families with different and unique needs to support for better long term outcomes of the babies and the family unit.” Kylie Pussell, CEO and Co-Founder of Miracle Babies Foundation.

Help us get meaningful change to improve paid parental leave for families with babies in NICU or SCN by completing our survey.

Take part in the paid parental leave survey