Returning to work as a breastfeeding mother is a right for employees and parents enrolled with Affinity Education Group (Affinity).
Our national community of early education and childcare centres, along with our Centre Support Office in Brisbane, is proud to acknowledge World Breastfeeding Week with national accreditation status by the Australian Breastfeeding Association for the second year in a row.
“The journey to achieve and then maintain national accreditation by the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) has been extremely positive for our employees, centre leadership teams and our enrolled families,” said Linda Carroll, Chief People Officer.
“We currently have more than 220 early education and childcare centres nationally and a community of more than 4000 female employees, along with more than 13,000 enrolled families.
“Our approach has always been breastfeeding friendly, but to achieve accreditation with the ABA we took a bespoke approach to review the facilities and practices in each centre in collaboration with their centre management teams. Adjustments were made to the environments and spaces set up at each centre, such as upgrading armchairs or providing privacy screens.
“Our national policies were also reviewed, updated to pass endorsement by the ABA and provided so that all centres operated by Affinity and each centre we add to our community have a consistent and supportive commitment to enabling breastfeeding, bottle feeding and pumping for our educators and parents.
“Of course, there is a lot more to enabling breastfeeding than the resources and policies – the most critical factor for us as an employer is ensuring our people feel genuinely supported when breastfeeding at work. We allow our team to choose between unpaid breaks or utilising paid carers leave in addition to their standard paid breaks so they can have as much time as they need during a working day to breastfeed their babies.”
“Within the past year more than 370 employees have returned from maternity leave nationally. Their average time on maternity leave is between six to nine months. During that time, we stay in contact and reassure them that they will be supported when returning to work, including any decision to continue breastfeeding while working,” she said.
Amanda Brown returned to work full-time as Centre Manager at Papilio Early Learning Baulkham Hills in April 2023 with baby Michael who is now 10 months old.
“With Affinity’s support, it’s been seamless – while on maternity leave, I put a plan in place with my Area Manager before I returned to work, which enabled me to take the time to pump and store milk before my son Michael started attending care here,” explained Amanda.
“Now he has started attending care full time in our centre at 10 months, I’m able to feed him in the comfy area and put him to sleep, and then he’s taken care of wonderfully by our nursery room educators.
“The girls in our team are super supportive, and we also have a parent who alternates between providing stored breastmilk or breastfeeding, and another educator returning to work part-time who is pumping milk in her dedicated breaks to ensure she can continue her breastfeeding journey.”
Rikki Ekman returned to work with baby Tex who is now 5 months old and is working part time as an Assistant Centre Manager at Aussie Kindies Early Learning Stawell in Victoria.
“It made the return so much easier,” said Rikki. “Tex will take a bottle, but when I was on maternity leave, I explained to my Manager that I preferred to breastfeed, and we spoke about how it might look if he needed a feed while I was not working in the same room.”
“As part of the requirements of being a licenced early education provider, we need to maintain ratios at all times for the number of qualified people working in each room with children, so when Tex needs a feed, it requires my Manager or someone else to swap with me so I can go into the room and feed him, and they do it every time with a smile which I appreciate so much. It helps that he’s a 5-minute speed feeder!”