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Sorry's not enough as mums to protest pool breastfeed ban

Liana Webster – pictured with Kylan, 6, Jayda, 5, and daughter Rori Webster-Camilleri – has faced discrimination after breastfeeding at the Bribie Island Aquatic Centre.
Liana Webster – pictured with Kylan, 6, Jayda, 5, and daughter Rori Webster-Camilleri – has faced discrimination after breastfeeding at the Bribie Island Aquatic Centre. IAIN CURRY

AN APOLOGY to a young mum asked not to breastfeed at a public pool was not enough.

That is the view of more than 30 mothers who plan to protest on Saturday outside a council-owned  pool.  

Liana Webster, 26, said she was humiliated and in tears after being asked to stop breastfeeding her youngest child at the side of the public pool while she was watching her other youngsters swimming.

Liana Webster, 26, was visiting Bribie Island Aquatic Centre, run by the Moreton Bay Council, with her three children.

Ms Webster said she was left embarrassed and ashamed when told by an employee she was not allowed to breastfeed while sitting alongside the pool.

A council spokeswoman apologised yesterday for the incident.

Ms Webster said she was told to move to the baby change room or to a more secluded area and to cover herself.

"I said that telling me to stop feeding was illegal, but the staff member insisted that it wasn't," she said.

"I was told I was offending other patrons."

Ms Webster said the incident made her cry due to the embarrassment of being told in front of her children.

"My boys are five and six," she said.

"They heard everything that was going on and they asked me why I was upset.

"We were at a pool where people were showing skin in all kinds of directions. It made me feel as though I was doing something I should be ashamed of."

Ms Webster said she asked for a refund as the family had to leave, but was refused.

More than 7000 people shared Ms Webster's Facebook posts about the incident.

Since then Ms Webster has started an open Facebook group inviting mothers to a nurse-in at the pool on Saturday.

"Anti-discrimination laws were broken and I was left publicly humiliated," Ms Webster said.

"I have organised this nurse-in to spread the word to as many people as possible that no matter what your opinion is, breastfeeding in public is not illegal."

Dr Maya Griffiths, from the Australian Breastfeeding Association, said under federal law breastfeeding was a right.

A Moreton Bay Regional Council spokeswoman said staff at the Bribie Island Aquatic Leisure Centre had received a complaint about a mother breastfeeding in the pool from a family also in the pool.

"Moreton Bay Regional Council regrets any distress caused to the mother or her family, and staff have been made aware of the relevant legislation in this area," the spokeswoman said.

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesman said the council had no policies, protocols or local laws preventing a mother from breastfeeding in council venues, facilities or on community land, unless it was a safety risk.

>> ILLEGAL OR NOT?

The breastfeeding bare facts:

Under Australian Federal law, breastfeeding is a right, not a privilege.

Under the Federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it is illegal in Australia to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds of breastfeeding.

In Queensland, breastfeeding discrimination is explicitly illegal.

Topics:  breastfeeding, editors picks, parenting


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