This paper considers the availability and use of data in parental leave policy making and monitoring in Australia. The terminology of parental leave is discussed and its use in Australia is explained as referring to paid and unpaid leave for mothers, fathers and partners at the time of birth or adoption of a child and usually covering the first 12–24 months after the birth or adoption. It includes entitlements in labour law legislation, the federal government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme and separate employer provisions. The paper outlines the range of data sources and how they were used to construct a case in favour of the introduction of the Paid Parental Leave scheme in 2010 and to monitor its implementation, as well provision of paid parental leave through enterprise bargaining and company policies. The paper also explains how data was used in a deliberately constructed way to defend the Paid Parental Leave scheme when it was under threat of significant change. In conclusion the paper draws attention to the way terminology is shifting, to how data illuminates the gendered use of parental leave in Australia and argues for the need for refreshed data on parental leave availability, access and use in Australia.
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