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Mum-of-two applauds Westpac's new paid fertility treatment leave: 'This is how positive change happens'

By Merryn Porter |

A Westpac staffer and mother-of two who underwent fertility treatment to conceive her children has applauded the bank's announcement it will offer employees paid leave to undergo fertility treatment.

Westpac announced yesterday it had launched a new employee benefit, effective immediately, for those staff wanting to start or expand their family.

The bank will offer one week's paid leave each year to undertake fertility treatment and access related medical support, including freezing eggs for a later date.

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Westpac's Head of Group Media Sharon Rockell with her two children, who were conceived with the help of IVF. (LinkedIn)

?Among those who welcomed the news is Westpac's Head of Group Media Sharon Rockell. In a post on LinkedIn, she said Westpac's announcement was "another progressive employee benefit in a growing list of benefits that focus on supporting employees during difficult life moments."?

She also shared details of her own long battle with infertility.?

"We did IVF for our two wonderful kids - took 12 rounds and six years until our boy was born," Rockell wrote. "We are so lucky though, because we ended up with two beautiful children.

"People have asked me if I would put IVF leave into the HR system if this leave was available back when I did it. Honestly, I don't know.

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Fertility treatment is both physically and mentally draining. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

"But what I do know is that whether or not I would have doesn't actually matter. What matters is knowing that my company truly cares about being family-friendly, which includes the pre-family stage.

"My company cares about fertility struggles, pregnancy loss, women's safety, domestic and family violence, inclusivity and gender affirmation.

"We have amazing policies on all of these, and so much more. This is how positive change happens, over time, step by step."

She ended the post by thanking Westpac's Group Executive Human Resources Christine Parker and Westpac Group for recognising fertility treatment as a "real-life moment" and giving its employees "acknowledgment and some extra space to do what they need to do."

Parker said that each year, many Westpac employees wanted to start or expand their family, but some needed fertility treatment, which required "a series of medical appointments, often at short notice."

"With this new benefit, our employees will know that they are supported to attend these, without having to use their annual leave or sick leave," she said.

"We try hard to make Westpac a truly family-friendly workplace, at whatever stage of the family journey people are on, and this now includes those undertaking fertility treatment."

In a joint press release with Westpac, Parents At Work chief executive and founder of Family Friendly Workplaces, Emma Walsh, said workplaces could play an important role in responding to the needs of employees going through fertility treatment.

Westpac's Group Executive Human Resources Christine Parker has backed the move to offer employees leave while they undergo fertility treatment. (Westpac)

"It's great to see Westpac raising more awareness and providing employees the support they need," she said. "This is another welcome step forward for organisations committed to embedding family-friendly practices and supporting employees at an important time in their lives."

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