A nationally recognised expert on the role of fathers within the family will today tell an Australian Government commission that fathers need time off work to bond with their babies.
Researcher Richard Fletcher from the University of Newcastle will detail the importance of father-baby bonding in his submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental Leave.
"Parental leave for fathers should not simply be seen as an opportunity to help a mother with her parenting," Mr Fletcher said.
"Fathers develop their own relationships with their children, which are important for the child's healthy development. Parental leave is instrumental in providing fathers with the opportunity to develop these relationships."
Mr Fletcher said it should not be assumed that the best model of parental leave was one which recognised only the 'primary carer' and precluded mothers and fathers from taking time together.
"When up to one in five mothers may be experiencing postnatal depression, it is important for families to choose an arrangement where a father can support the mother, and at the same time form a crucial secure attachment with his infant."
Mr Fletcher will also discuss his concerns that fathers are not well informed of the issues surrounding birth and new parenthood.
"For fathers to seriously consider taking paternity leave, they will need to be informed not only of the financial and administrative arrangements, but also of the parental purposes of taking the leave."
Mr Fletcher will address the Productivity Commission Inquiry at 1.30pm today, Wednesday 21 May 2008.