Maternity space a first for Army
The 2nd Health Battalion in Brisbane is set to become Army’s first accredited Australian Breastfeeding Association-friendly workplace.
CAPTION: Captain Stephanie Costa, left, and Corporal Britney Pascoe with their bubs in the parents room. Story by Captain Andrew Page. Photo by Major Paul Krohn.
The battalion reached out to the Australian Breastfeeding Association last year to commence the application process, which involves providing proof of dedicating time, space, resources and a supportive workplace culture.
Commanding Officer 2nd Health Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Anna Reinhardt is a keen advocate for obtaining the accreditation.
“Almost half of our workforce is women, with many at that point of their lives where they are starting families while trying to balance demanding professional careers,” Lieutenant Colonel Reinhardt said.
“So this initiative was just common sense.
“We’ve been hard at work establishing our facilities – including two parent rooms – a unit policy, and educating leaders at all levels on practical and flexible workplace practices to support breastfeeding options for members returning from maternity leave.
“At its core, removing barriers helps support many women to return to work earlier than they otherwise would, and this in turn builds our available capability and helps people to continue serving.”
Corporal Britney Pascoe said she could not have imagined returning to a workplace that wasn’t as accommodating and welcoming of mothers who wanted to continue breastfeeding.
“I came off maternity leave this year, and breastfeeding is a big part of that journey,” Corporal Pascoe said.
“When I came back from maternity leave I was still predominately breastfeeding my baby, so having a work environment that is supportive of breastfeeding and that allowed me to pump and give me that time and space, that’s really important to me.”
Regimental Sergeant Major of the 2nd Health Battalion, Warrant Officer Class One Craig Murray, said he had seen first-hand the benefits the initiative has had on capability and how breastfeeding helped mothers return to work.
“We need to look at smarter ways of returning parents to the workplace, and by breastfeeding at work or providing a space to express, we can actually retain people and have them back on deck more quickly,” Warrant Officer Class One Murray said.
“We do that by providing an inclusive environment with a diverse culture, and as commanders, we are happy to provide our support.”