First-time parents in Victoria would receive a bundle of essentials for their new baby under Labor plans to boost support for the youngest members of the state.
Premier Daniel Andrews said around 35,000 new parents every year would receive a free package of goods worth approximately $150, if his government is re-elected on Saturday.
He also pledged a $232 million investment to provide better support for mums and dads and vowed to encourage more employers to offer paternity leave.
“Being a first-time parent is a magical experience, but it can be a very stressful experience,” Mr Andrews told reporters during a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Centre, in Noble Park, which supports parents.
“This package is essentially about taking care of the people who are taking care of our littlest Victorians.”
The baby bundle will include a nappy bag, safe sleeping bag, muslin wrap and four picture books, among other items and advice for new parents.
The multi-million dollar investment by a re-elected Labor government would provide more maternal and childhood nurses, help build seven new early parenting centres, refurbish two more and find more home support for families.
Early parenting centres offer support including residential stays for parents who need extra help, particularly with sleep, settling and behaviour issues.
“We know that if you don’t get this right, kids can be held back, all sorts of other challenges can really set in, and we all finish up paying for that,” Mr Andrews said.
“That’s why I say this is not so much a cost to budget, but a really profound investment.”
Mr Andrews said he would also legislate to replace the payroll tax exemption to employers for maternity leave with an exemption for all parental leave, so more fathers can also take time off work.
Victorian Labor has already pledged to introduce free installation of car seats and funding for kindergartens in a bid to win over parent voters.
Both major party leaders are ramping up their campaigns on Monday, with just five days to go until the election.