The Issue

Pregnant and parent workers represent a substantial and growing proportion of the Australian workforce. Over 20% of all Australian households have young children and the percentage of dual-earner parent couples with children under 18 years has increased from 53% in 1996 to 61% in 2016. The 2023 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that the number of children has increased over the last fifty years, with the number estimated to grow to 6.4 million by the year 2048.

Despite the high prevalence of Australian workers who have children, there is limited national research exploring their work conditions and treatment at work. In fact, the last Australian national review on pregnant and parent workers was carried out a decade ago—by the Australian Human Rights Commission—which established that almost half of Australian mothers and over a quarter of Australian fathers experienced discrimination. Up-to-date evidence is needed to provide clarity on the current issues experienced by the pregnant and parent workers and to guide national policy efforts and organisational action.

About the Project

We have conducted the first Australian National Review into of work-related discrimination, disadvantage, and bias among pregnant and parent workers since 2014. Over 1200 Australian pregnant and parent workers responded to the survey. Despite being a gender-inclusive study, almost 95% of the respondents identified as female. We have prepared a full report (link below) that outlines the results from this project.

The Team

This project is led by Dr Rachael Potter, Research Fellow from the Psychosocial Safety Climate Global Observatory (PSC-GO), Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX), Justice and Society at UniSA, and supported by research team members including:

  • Mrs Kristen Foley, Centre for Public Health, Equity and Human Flourishing (PHEHF), Torrens University and 2021 UniSA PhD Thinker
  • Ms Sophie Richter, PSC-GO, CWeX, Justice and Society, UniSA
  • Ms Sarah Cleggett, Adelaide City Council (Social Planning) and Founder of Middle Ground Motherhood
  • ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Maureen Dollard, PSC-GO, Justice and Society UniSA, and Honorary Professor at University of Nottingham
  • Ms Amy Parkin, PSC-GO, CWeX, Justice and Society, UniSA
  • Professor Paula Brough, Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing, Griffith University
  • Professor Kurt Lushington, PSC-GO, Justice and Society, UniSA

The National Review Evidence and Insights Report

Download the National Review Evidence and Insights Report below. We encourage the dissemination of findings and insights outlined by this research.

Download the report

To cite the report please use:

Potter, R., Foley, K., Richter, S., Cleggett, S., Dollard, M., Parkin, A., Brough, P., & Lushington, K. (2024). National Review: Work Conditions & Discrimination among Pregnant & Parent Workers in Australia Evidence & Insights Report

Contact Dr Rachael Potter for further information at