Haydock mum wins fight for rights Down Under

A Haydock mum has paved the way for expectant mothers who suffer a miscarriage to have access to bereavement leave in Australia.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 10:10 am
Sam Payne, the CEO and co-founder of Pink Elephant with her family

Samantha Payne, who suffered several losses during pregnancy herself, began her Leave for Loss campaign through her charity the Pink Elephants support network of which she is the CEO and co-founder.

She emigrated down under with her partner 12 years ago from their home in Haydock and while they went on to have two children, she also suffered three miscarriages in the process, the most recent being only last year.

This prompted her to set up her organisation in 2016 after realising there was no direct charity specifically for miscarriage in their adopted country.

It has proved a success and there are now moves for something similar to be championed by child still birth and neonatal death charity Sands in the UK.

Sam said: “We knew there was no entitlement leave for women and their partners who experience pregnancy loss. There is leave for still-birth but nothing for people who are coming to terms with a miscarriage.

“We identified the issue from speaking to women who were returning to work after having a DNC which is the procedure to remove the baby after it has passed away and who were absolutely devastated but had no access to leave and had no idea what to do.

“People were being turned away with workplaces saying it’s not classed as bereavement leave, so we questioned why because it is an immediate family member, you grow the baby inside of you, you can’t get closer!

“Because of this we did our research and decided that we needed to have a larger case for support and had to submit this to government.”

Sam met with various MPs and senators to get them on board to take it to the Attorney General of Australia.

This was eventually successful and the bill was debated in parliament on September 1 with the bill officially being passed on September 4.

The law now states that women and their partners who go through a miscarriage are entitled to two days’ paid bereavement leave.

“The fact it was finally passed is incredible and as a result this bill is now being advocated for in the UK which is brilliant to see,” said Sam.

It has taken three years for it to be granted, but the first initial meetings with senior politicians only took place around October last year.

Sam was supposed to address senate in Parliament House but was unable to attend due to being in lockdown in Sydney.

“We’re now in a full lockdown here so I had to watch the debate on a livestream which was pretty devastating not being there to be a part of it.”

As well as lobbying for this amendment, the charity has set up a workplace support programme to provide businesses with resources on how it can better help people.

“Once they’ve had the leave, nobody knows how to support you, they may say the wrong thing or say nothing at all which can also be upsetting.

“Because of us starting this in Australia, there is now a trend where global organisations are taking it on too.”

Since the start of this, there has been an extremely positive response from people.

“There’s been a sense of relief that someone from the community has pushed for this in parliament.

“Miscarriage isn’t spoken about at many levels and you feel you’re not seen because it can be incredibly isolating.

“We have had a few comments saying that two days isn’t enough and we understand that but this isn’t about the amount of leave it is about the validation that miscarriage is true grief.”

Pink Elephants has supported 37,500 women this year alone and provide early intervention and peer support for women who go through early pregnancy loss.

People from the UK have also been able to access the help. For more information visit www.pinkelephants.org.au/.