Racing Queensland has announced the introduction of a ‘Maternity Support Scheme’ for female jockeys and drivers.
Under the applicable rules of racing, Queensland participants are required to cease riding or driving during the final two trimesters of their pregnancies.
With participants unable to access the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme until the birth of their child, the Maternity Support Scheme has been developed to provide financial support during their pregnancies.
Where the Maternity Support Scheme applies, RQ will pay a participant an amount equal to the average weekly income they earned from riding or driving in races during the past 12 months, capped at $750 per week for a period of 20 weeks.
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the move recognised that women were an important and growing part of the racing industry.
“This will make sure that our female jockeys and drivers, and those looking to enter the industry, have continuity of income across their careers,” he said.
“As I travel across Queensland, I see more and more women becoming involved in the industry and we need to encourage and support their decision in every way we can.”
To be eligible for the Maternity Support Scheme, Queensland participants must meet the following criteria:
- Is an Australian citizen or permanent resident;
- Is a resident of Queensland;
- Has been licensed with the QRIC as a jockey or a driver for at least 12 months prior to the date they are required to cease riding or driving under the applicable rules of racing;
- Has earned income primarily (at least 60%) from riding or driving in races over the previous 12 month period;
- Does not hold any other type of licence with the QRIC; and
- Has or will have reduced income in the second or third trimester of pregnancy as a result of being required to cease riding or driving under the rules of their respective code of racing.
RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said the introduction of the Maternity Support Scheme was an important milestone for the Queensland racing industry.
"Racing Queensland is committed to removing any barriers that prevent female participants from making a career out of racing," Mr Parnell said.
“At present, almost two in five of our participants are female, but we want that figure to continue to grow.
"While 54% of our licensed track riders are female - along with 66% of our apprentice jockeys – it’s important that our female participants are not financially disadvantaged should they choose to balance family with their careers and this is an important step to alleviating that impediment.”
Queensland Jockeys’ Association Glen Prentice welcomed the announcement on behalf of his members.
"A Maternity Support Scheme will be warmly received across Queensland," Mr Prentice said.
"It is an important initiative that we have engaged with Racing Queensland on and we are glad that it will now be implemented.”
BOTRA President Daren Garrard echoed the positive sentiments.
"Our female participants are pivotal to the Queensland racing industry," Mr Garrard said.
"Therefore, it's only appropriate that we provide conditions that are commensurate with a modern and progressing working environment."
Click here to see Racing Queensland’s Maternity Support Scheme.