Womens health in the spotlight

4 September 2019

The ANU community came together on Monday to hear from a number of experts on health issues affecting women, as part of Women’s Health Week.

Organised in partnership between the Supporting Breastfeeding at ANU Working Group, the ANU Gender Institute and the ANU Research School of Population Health, the attendees heard from speakers on topics including breastfeeding friendly environments, whether egg freezing is good for women’s health and wellbeing (and whether it works), and the health risks associated with stopping breastfeeding early.

In opening the event, Provost Professor Mike Calford highlighted the changes that the University had made which demonstrate its commitment to create a better workplace for women and men.

The Provost focussed on some of the recent practical initiatives the University has introduced to provide support to families with young children. In 2018, the University extended partner leave allowing both partners, regardless of gender, to take up to 26 weeks leave of paid parental leave. In 2019, the University committed to paying up to 26 weeks’ employer superannuation contributions to any staff member taking unpaid parental leave.

He said “we want our workplace to be one that encourages the values of work-life balance so we can keep more people in their careers, and also enjoy time with their family.”

He said the University is embarking on other practical actions such as accessible building design embedded in the Campus master plan, funding for programs to support career development for both academic and professional staff, and had commenced work on extending scholarships in recognition of people needing to work part-time or with significant family responsibilities.

Professor Calford said the tertiary sector had changed a lot in 34 years.

“I was reflecting back to 34 years ago when my wife Karin and I had our first child and we did not have [access to] flexible arrangements,” he said.

“I’m so pleased that we moved well on from those days.”

Professor Calford praised the grass-roots efforts of the Family-Friendly Committee and the Supporting Breastfeeding at ANU Working Group, who are examples of groups helping to change culture to make ANU a workplace that supports women’s careers.

“We’re continuing to look at other aspects of family-friendly policy and it’s clear that breastfeeding is one of those.

“We’re open to suggestions in these areas. Please keep them coming,” Professor Calford said.

As a member of the Australian SAGE Athena SWAN pilot, the University recognises, promotes and rewards excellence in advancing the careers of women, trans and gender diverse individuals.

The University submitted its application for a Bronze award earlier this year and the outcome of the application is likely in the coming months.  

For more information on some of the specific programs the University runs relating to supporting women, head to the ANU Gender Institute and HR’s Supporting Families website.

These websites also contain information on ANU policies and initiatives around supporting parents and carers of other family members, breastfeeding (including parenting room locations), the ANU Parenting Spaces book - a printable guide that outlines the parent room locations on campus - a Google map of parenting spaces, and checklists for mothers and supervisors that cover how to support mothers breastfeeding on campus (provided courtesy of the Australian Breastfeeding Association's Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace accreditation program).

For a list of other Breastfeeding Welcome Here venues on campus, visit https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/services/welcome/venues?display_name=&state_province=1638&postal_code=&city=Acton.