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Confusion about breastfeeding ban

Kylie Robinson feeds baby, Isla, 5 months old. Photo: Barry Leddicoat/ 179336
Kylie Robinson feeds baby, Isla, 5 months old. Photo: Barry Leddicoat/ 179336

A Coolum woman’s complaint that she was told to breastfeed her baby in the toilet block of the Cotton Tree Aquatic Centre made front page news here on the Coast and has promped vigorous discussion on national television.

Kylie Robinson told the Sunshine Coast Daily she had begun feeding five-month-old Isla by the steps of a small heated pool at the Cotton Tree complex when an attendant told her to move into the toilets, indicating that a Catholic school group swimming nearby had “fairly strict guidelines”.

Ms Robinson , who finished feeding her daughter at her pram nearby, said she planned to complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commission.

“They obviously don’t know their anti-discrimination matters very well, and the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of other mums and kids there,” she said.

Australian Breastfeeding Association Shannon Breen counsellor said Mrs Robinson had every right to feed her baby at the pool.

Ms Breen said it was illegal in Queensland to discriminate against a woman breastfeeding in public in the area of goods and services, which meant that mother could breastfeed their babies in public places such as cafes, shops, churches and schools.

She said the provision of feeding rooms in public places such as shopping centres had given many people the wrong impression that they could not longer breastfeed in public.

Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Booth, confirmed that it was illegal to discriminate against women breastfeeding in public and that asking a breastfeeding mother to move would constitute discrimination.

But a spokesperson for the aquatic centres said there had simply been “a misunderstanding” and added that breastfeeding happened on a daily basis at Cotton Tree and other council pools.

He said the Coolum-Peregian Aquatic Complex conducted Mothers’ Club swimming sessions three days a week where breastfeeding was a regular occurrence.

“The policy is – like any other public place – we allow breastfeeding,” he said.

Pool regular Lisa De Boer said she often breastfed her baby “as nature intended” at the Coolum pool.


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