Senator becomes first politician to breastfeed in Australian Parliament
Larissa Waters made history this week, simply by feeding her daughter. The Australian senator and mom to two-month-old daughter Alia Joy came back to work on Tuesday after maternity leave. She brought her daughter in with her for voting and when little Alia got hungry her mom breastfed her, right there on the Parliament Senate floor. In doing what any mom with a hungry baby should feel supported in doing, Waters became the first politician in Australia to breastfeed in Parliament.
While moms have been allowed to breastfeed in Senate chambers for some time, Waters was part of a group who worked to expand the rights of parents on the Australian Parliament floor last year to include breastfeeding and bottle feeding. The 2016 rules change allowed parents to feed and care for babies on the Senate floor. Before this change, nursing moms were given a proxy vote and couldn’t bring the baby onto the floor.
Waters told the Courier Mail that she planned to take full advantage of being able to breastfeed her daughter at work and has hopes that more workplaces will follow suit.“It is important we make all workplaces more family friendly, not just Parliament,” she said. Her partner, Jeremy Gates, is a full-time dad who will bring the baby into the chamber for feeding when necessary.
The senator celebrated the moment on social media.
“I am so proud that my daughter Alia is the first baby to be breastfed in the federal Parliament!” she said on Facebook. “We need more women and parents in Parliament. And we need more family-friendly and flexible workplaces, and affordable childcare, for everyone.”
Water’s breastfeeding moment is a powerful one in that it shows how far the Australian Parliament has come in respecting the responsibilities of working parents.
“In 2003 Kirstie Marshall a Victorian MP was ejected from State Parliament for breastfeeding her 11-day old baby girl,” Waters explains. “Sometimes it’s difficult not to get disheartened by the sexism women still face in the workplace. But sometimes it pays to look back and see how far we have come.”