MS LAWDER(Brindabella) (9.07): I rise today to talk about the Australian Breastfeeding Association, which is celebrating 50 years in Australia. The Australian Breastfeeding Association, or ABA, is Australia's largest breastfeeding information and support service. Breastfeeding is a practical learned skill, and the ABA helps more than 80,000 mothers each year. The ABA also provides up-to-date information and continuing education for thousands of health professionals working with mothers and babies.
The ABA was founded in 1964 by six Melbourne mothers as the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia, with the aim of helping and supporting other mothers to breastfeed after they became frustrated at the invisibility of breastfeeding advice in a society where artificial feeding of infants was increasingly accepted as the norm. This mother-to-mother support continues today, with 1,100 volunteer breastfeeding counsellors and educators who are mothers who breastfed their own child or children and completed a certificate IV in Breastfeeding Education.
Through a range of services, the ABA supports and encourages women who want to breastfeed or provide breast milk for their babies, and advocates to raise community awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and human milk to child and maternal health.
Services include membership for both mothers and health professionals, a 24-hour breastfeeding help line, an informative website, local support groups, antenatal classes, retail shops, and numerous print and digital resources. More than 350,000 Australians have been members since the ABA started in 1964, and in fact I was a member when my own children were babies. The vision of the association is to ensure breastfeeding is recognised as important by all Australians and is culturally normal. They have a mission to educate and advocate for a breastfeeding inclusive society.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the ACT-southern New South Wales branch of the Australian Breastfeeding Association 50th birthday celebrations at Lanyon Homestead. It was a beautiful outing, and I was pleased to be part of something that is such an important part of many women's lives.
While I was at the picnic I assisted in the planting of a "little ray of sunshine", which is a rose developed and grown especially for the Australian Breastfeeding Association's golden jubilee by Kim Syrus of Corporate Roses in South Australia. The rose bush, which grows to about 1.5 metres in height, has a bright yellow bloom which flowers consistently throughout the growing season, and they are being sold by the ABA to raise funds to support more mothers.
I want today to thank Andrea Gledhill, branch president, and Megan Lucas-Fox, group leader for the Tuggeranong and Burley Griffin groups, for their hospitality, and thank all the volunteers that make this organisation so successful and a vital part of women's lives in early motherhood.
You can get information and support from the breastfeeding help line on 1800 mum 2 mum, or find out more about the Australian Breastfeeding Association at www.breastfeeding.asn.au.