Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET
(Castle Hill) [6.37 p.m.]: I acknowledge the great work of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, particularly the work of its New South Wales branch. The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in 1964 to encourage and support mothers who wish to breastfeed their babies, and to create an awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding in the community. I was fortunate recently to attend the opening of the first breastfeeding drop-in centre in New South Wales, in my electorate of Castle Hill. The centre will be an invaluable community resource. It will provide sanctuary for women within and around the Hills district who are looking for support, assistance and a welcoming environment. With an abundance of young families in my electorate of Castle Hill, there can be no better place to open the first centre than in the heart of Castle Hill. The centre will no doubt provide great support for mothers across the Hills district.
Last week we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week. Every year for the past 19 years the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and other breastfeeding advocates in more than 170 countries worldwide have celebrated this event during the week of 1 to 7 August. This year's theme centred around communication—specifically, the need to communicate, create awareness, mobilise and build bridges across generations, cultures, religions and civilisations on breastfeeding. While last week signified a worldwide celebration, we can look within our own borders to see the importance that the community places on associations such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association. The association is one of Australia's largest women's organisations and is a key provider of peer support for mothers. The 1800 mum 2 mum breastfeeding helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is not only the third-largest helpline in Australia, behind Lifeline and Kids Helpline, but also responds to a large number of calls from local mothers needing ongoing counselling and support.
The value of the helpline support group cannot be underestimated. Each year in New South Wales more than 30,000 calls are taken by the helpline. Contacts between local groups are made from Moree to Lismore to Albury with breastfeeding classes, parenting programs, talks, literature dissemination and other counselling contacts being provided to ensure that mothers have the confidence and reassurance they need to continue breastfeeding. The opening of the new and modern Breastfeeding Lounge Drop-In Centre in Castle Hill last week will provide The Hills local community with a space in which to support the work and training of volunteers. It also offers mothers the opportunity to obtain expert assistance and advice, participate in specialised classes on a range of topics that include parenting, sleep and settling, or simply provide an environment where mothers can meet for a cup of tea or coffee.
I had great pleasure in speaking at the opening as well as touring the facility with Louise Duursma, who is the President of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Breastfeeding Association. I commend the association for one particular aspect, which is the emphasis and focus placed on the role that fathers play with their new-born babies. There is no doubt that in today's society we are seeing a new trend; fathers are playing a greater role in the birth and early years of their child's lives. The days are well and truly over when fathers received a phone call at work to inform them that their baby had been born and then visited their wives in hospital after the pain had been endured. I was conned by my wife into enduring her 20 hours of labour. With the assistance of gas, I got through it.
Mr Rob Stokes:
And an epidural.
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET:
I did not receive an epidural, but the gas was of some assistance. It has certainly provided a great bonding experience between me and my wife as well as between me and my daughter, Charlotte. I look forward to enduring that process again next month for the birth of our next daughter. In the company of the member for Cessnock, I also attended a very important lecture given by Dr Richard Fletcher titled "How Father-Baby Bonding Helps a Child for Life". It is great that those topics are being recognised by the Australian Breastfeeding Association. The association's launch of the online resource enables mothers and fathers to discuss and be involved in forums concerning new-born babies. I encourage all fathers of young children to participate in this important initiative. I commend the work that the Australian Breastfeeding Association does for mothers and fathers in The Hills community.