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My parental leave decided for me

May 8, 2009

I am extremely lucky that my company is very generous with its maternity leave – I am entitled to up to a year off, including 12 weeks at full pay (or 24 at half pay), which is fairly unusual here in Australia. And, they are also flexible with return to work options, which are specifically aimed at retaining female staff once they have started a family.

So I was feeling comfortable with our plans for me to take up to a year off to care for Peanut once it arrives, until this month’s budget announcement that the Medicare Safety Net is being removed for IVF treatment.

This has made me angry on a number of levels. Firstly, infertility is not of our own making, and yet medical treatment for many other causes (self-inflicted or not) is still being covered for others. It will delay many people trying for a child while they save for the funds, with a further impact on fertility. And we are trying to have children at a time that should suit the country. By 2050, almost 1 in 2 Australians will be over the age of 50, with many much older, and the economy will be needing workers, and income earners to help fund this huge bubble of Baby Boomers.

The impact will be families being forced into the situation of never having children, of waiting too long, or of facing a gambler’s debt in personal loans or increased mortgages for the chance at rolling the dice.

In practical terms, what this will mean for us is that instead of a single treatment costing us around $3,000 (and a bargain considering what we will get for it!), the cost will almost double to around $5,000 (not including extra drugs, health insurance extras and acupuncture). Now, we were pretty lucky scoring first time – and we have to be realistic that we will need to budget for at least 3-4 rounds to have a good chance of giving Peanut a sibling.

So, we will need to save almost $20,000 over the next 2 years, while paying for an extra family member, paying off a mortgage and saving for future expenses. As I am the primary income earner, it makes it entirely impractical for us to consider having me stay at home full-time. If we want another baby in the next few years, I will need to go back to work.

I don’t mind the thought of this at this point anyway, although many people have told me that this will change. I love working, I find it very empowering, and a big definition of who I am. And yes, I know much of that will shift once I am a (strange to say the word) mother, but I don’t expect to lose the core essence of myself either.

What I would really like is for others to understand that this is our world. We don’t necessarily have the luxury of choice of whether I will stay at home or not. Much of that has been taken away from us with the recent budget changes, which only adds to the infertility that we were already faced with.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2009 5:12 pm

    Info has finally been released on new rebates and caps here 😦
    http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/News-20090518-Extended-Medicare-Safety-Net_amendment

  2. June 1, 2009 2:54 pm

    Don’t worry, I’m still the bad kid. I’ll cover for you.

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