A previous Australian national review showed that almost half (49%) of mothers, and over a quarter (27%) of fathers, have experienced discrimination regarding their pregnancy, parental leave or return to work experience (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014) since the birth or adoption of a child. There is a steadily increasing number of working parents in Australia, but since 2014 there has been no follow-up nationally-focused investigation of the prevalence, nature, and consequences of workplace discrimination or general work conditions for parents.

About the project

Dr Rachael Potter and colleagues are undertaking a national survey to better understand the work conditions of pregnant persons, parents on leave, and those who have returned to paid work since the birth or adoption of a child. The survey has a strong focus on aspects of discrimination in the workplace. The goal is to understand the current state of work conditions and what aspects can be improved to better support parents’ psychological health at work.

The team

The project is led by Dr Rachael Potter, Research Fellow at UniSA, and supported by research team members including:

  • Professor Paula Brough (Griffith University)
  • Ms Sarah Cleggett (Adelaide City Council [Social Planning] and Founder of Middle Ground Motherhood)
  • Professor Kurt Lushington (JUS, UniSA)
  • Professor Maureen Dollard (PSC-GO, JUS, UniSA)
  • Ms Sophie Richter (JUS, UniSA)
  • Mrs Kristen Foley (Torrens University and 2021 UniSA PhD Thinkers participant)
  • Ms Kate McFarlane (Adelaide University and 2021 UniSA PhD Thinkers participant).

The project has also been supported and promoted through groups such as the Australian Council of Trade Unions and community advocacy groups such as The Parenthood.

The impact

There will be a concerted effort to widely share research findings to inform future national and organisational policy and practice. The research team will create an industry-focused report and presentation pack to promote the research findings and recommendations. For maximum impact, the findings will also be shared with media outlets, at a national conference, in an academic manuscript and presented to all stakeholders who have supported this research.

Take the survey

Participants must be over 18 years old, live in Australia and are either pregnant and at work, on parental leave and/or have returned to work since the birth or adoption of a child within the last 10 years.

All parents and all genders are welcome to complete the confidential online survey. The survey is estimated to take 15 minutes to complete but duration will vary depend on current circumstances. The project has been approved by the University of South Australia's Human Research Ethics Committee (204816).


Dr Rachael Potter for further information at rachael.potter@unisa.edu.au