The winners in last night’s historic Mega Millions’ $355 million lottery drawing have not been announced yet, but it has been revealed that they’re from Idaho and Washington, not Australia. However, any woman in Australia who has given birth since Jan. 1 must feel like a lottery winner anyway.
As of the New Year, expectant working mothers Down Under with an income of less than $150,000 annually and who have worked at least 330 hours over a 10-month period are qualified for the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, in which $10,260 (or the equivalent of the Australian national minimum wage) will be paid out over an 18-week period following the birth or adoption of a child.
Previously new mothers were entitled to a $5,294 Baby Bonus, which those with incomes over $150,000 are still able to receive. The money can be taken any time within the first year after birth, according to the Gladstone Observer.
Winning the Mega Millions jackpot — or even splitting it, as the case may be — would be life changing, of course. But on a much (much) smaller scale, imagine getting more than six unpaid weeks of maternity leave, which is what so many companies in the United States provide (and mostly because they’re only required to by law)?
Besides the usual hopes and concerns during my pregnancy about delivering a happy and healthy baby, I stressed and fretted for nearly nine months about taking time off from work. While I was fortunate to be working somewhere at the time that offered a fairly generous maternity leave policy, I still wanted more time to bond with my baby, but it was hard to wrap my brain around how my husband and I would make it work financially if I were to take additional, unpaid time.
I have always been green with envy of all of those countries abroad that recognize and respect the emotional value of maternity leave, and offer a government sanctioned and funded year or two off following the birth of a baby to make sure that an infant’s primary caregiver is afforded ample time and resources to stay at home and lay the foundation for a loving relationship.
Don’t you think it’s time that American moms are eligible to win the same kind of jackpot?
Image: Creative Commons