NT council takes big steps on breastfeeding
The Darwin council of Palmerston has voted in favour of putting “breastfeeding friendly” stickers and signs up in the local library and other government spaces.
Palmerston Council Deputy Mayor and new mother Seranna Shutt came up with the idea after hearing of the harassment some young mums faced when they breastfed in public.
Federal, state and territory laws protect a woman's right to breastfeed in public places, but that does not stop members of the public from raising their views on when and where children should be fed.
“Just last night before the council meeting, I was getting a coffee in the Palmerston area,” Cr Shutt told ABC reporters this week.
“I had the person making my coffee go: ‘You wouldn't want a mother breastfeeding in a restaurant would you?’
“This was a great opportunity to go; ‘No, actually, that's discrimination’.
“Just a smile and a glass of water [for the mother] would go a long way.”
The stickers and signs will be launched at a community event in Palmerston on August 3 , coinciding with World Breastfeeding Week.
Local businesses are already being encouraged to consider similar initiatives.
“We are going to encourage businesses to apply for grants to do [breastfeeding-friendly workplace] training too,” Cr Shutt said.
She said the campaign was about awareness and normalisation of something that can be an additional worry for new mothers.
“I want to help minimise post-natal depression and help mothers feel okay to get outside in their first few weeks,” she said.
The move has already been welcomed by NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sally Sievers, who says the commission gets several complaints a year from breastfeeding mothers.
“Often we hear stories of women going into toilets to breastfeed,” she said.
Ms Sievers said it was difficult to say why women breastfeeding still enrages some people.
“It's probably an aspect of old stereotypes about what you're meant to do as a woman,” she said.