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If you are looking for birth support, or Perth area placenta encapsulation in the Perth, Peel and Hills regions I can help. Kelly Evans - The Modern Doula 

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News + Notes

News & Notes from Kelly Evans (The Modern Doula) on pregnancy and giving birth in Perth, Western Australia.

Filtering by Tag: discrimination

Is Breastfeeding Really Welcome Here Pt 2? (Reply From The Melbourne Town Hall)

Kelly Evans

In my last post I explained about the horrible situation that left me in tears on the steps of the Melbourne Town Hall. Below is the reply from the City Of Melbourne who employ contractors to run the Town Hall. I'd love to know your thoughts. Have they gone far enough? Should the Melbourne Town Hall be made a Breastfeeding Welcome Here Venue? Is there anyone in Melbourne who would like to go feed their baby on the front steps and let me know if things really have changed or if this is just lip service!

Dear Ms Evans,

Further to my email to you on 10 June 2015 I can advise that the matter you raised with regards to your interaction with a staff member at The Melbourne Town Hall has been investigated.

The City of Melbourne fully supports the right (as set out by the Australian Human Rights Commission) of every child to be breastfed ‘anywhere, anytime’ and we are aware that it a child’s legal right to do so. I understand that this position was not made clear during your conversation with the doorman on the steps of the Town Hall and that you felt discouraged from feeding in this location. This matter has been discussed with the person you spoke with and while it is understood that no offence was intended, City of Melbourne’s position on breastfeeding has been emphasised with our Town Hall contractors, who employ the staff member in question.

I trust that this will result in a more sensitive and informed approach in any future interactions our contractors may have with breastfeeding mothers in this location. I apologise for the offence you suffered as a result of this interaction and thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

I am pleased to hear that you enjoyed the Homebirth Australia conference at the Melbourne Town Hall and hope that you will visit again soon.

Kind regards,

Ian.

Ian Sumpter | Acting Manager | Customer Relations

Is Breastfeeding Really Welcome Here? (My Open Letter To The Melbourne Town Hall)

Kelly Evans

Dear Sir/Madam, To whom it may concern:

Firstly, I'd like to say thank you for the wonderful experience that was the Homebirth Australia Conference 2015! It was a beautiful venue and the catering was one of the best I have experienced.

I'd like to bring to your attention however an unfortunate incident that occurred on the steps of the Melbourne Town Hall on Sunday 31st May.

My son had just come to meet me for his lunch on that Sunday and his lunch happened to be breastmilk. Having breastfed two children (the first for 2 and a half years) and the second for 14 months so far, and having travelled around Australia and overseas and breastfed all the time, I have never had occasion to have to think about feeding my son. It just happens. He is hungry. I am usually pretty discreet about it anyway, he feeds and we are done.

Anyway on this occasion the gentleman on the door rushed up to me and said 'you can't do that here'. It actually took me a moment to understand what he was referring to.. So I said 'Yes I can'. He shook his head at me and ushered me to move and said 'No you can't do that here'.

I said 'But it's the law, I can feed anywhere'. He said 'There's a family room inside you'll have to go in there'. I shook my head I said 'but it's the Homebirth Conference' and turned my back on him, before sitting down on the steps.

He muttered more things under his breath about me needing to go inside, about me returning to the 3rd floor to feed and about it being 'culturally inappropriate', by which time I have managed to beckon one of the conference organisers over for support. Luckily she backed me up saying that of course I could feed my son there! He then acknowledged that he was from a different generation (?)

I felt very disconcerted by your doormans verbal tirade, I was left shaking and in tears by the end, all the while standing my ground, to feed my starving baby the breastmilk he needed. I couldn't concentrate at the conference after that and ended up leaving the building after that walking around in shock.

In Australian Federal Law breastfeeding is a right, not a privilege. Under the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it is illegal in Australia to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds of breastfeeding. Babies can be breastfed anywhere and anytime. Your doorman should not have asked me to leave or move on the basis that I was breastfeeding. I should not have been sent to the toilet (aka family room). More information can be found here: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/breastfeeding-and-law/legalright

I wasn't doing anything wrong and I was treated most unfairly by your staff member. I would like to know that your staff since this incident will receive proper training in the law, and how they should treat breastfeeding women. Perhaps you might even consider going one step further and becoming a Breastfeeding Welcome Here Venue with the Australian Breastfeeding Association: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/services/welcome

I look forward to hearing from you promptly regarding this matter, and I thank you once again for providing such a lovely conference venue. Kind regards,

Kelly Evans The Modern Doula