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Parliament of Western Australia celebrates opening of new family room

11 March 2021
Room with children's toys on the floor

Over the next few weeks, preparations will begin for the opening of the new Parliament following the state election. As Parliament recommences, members and staff will be able to enjoy the new Family Room, which was officially opened by the President of the Legislative Council, Hon Kate Doust MLC and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Hon Peter Watson MLA on Monday, 8 March.

The Family Room was established following a survey of Members of Parliament and staff working at Parliament House, who had expressed a desire to better balance their family and work commitments during sitting weeks, when Parliament sits into the evening.

Legislative Council President Hon Kate Doust talks with a child of a Parliament House employee.

Hon Kate Doust said that it was important to recognise the demands on parents, particularly those with younger families who may miss out on valuable time with their children during critical periods like dinner time and story time.
‘Some MPs and parliamentary staff may not have quality time with their family for several days due to heavy sitting schedules,’ she said. ‘Although the Family room is only a small space it means parents can be with their children in the workplace while managing the demands of their work”.
Most MPs and staff work in shared spaces at Parliament House so the Family Room provides a private and intimate area away from colleagues to connect with their children.

Parliament House staff member Vanessa uses the room with her children.

Hon Peter Watson said, “As a regional MP of more than 20 years I know how difficult it can be to not have physical contact with family for extended periods. Just being in a room with your kids, while they study or play, is so important to our sense of family. I’m pretty tech savvy but give me a hug over FaceTime any day.’

Executive Manager of Parliamentary Services Rob Hunter said that modern workplaces should incorporate family friendly work practices where they can, and that sometimes the smallest improvements to support families can make a world of difference.
‘The traditional separation between work and home life is long since gone. Contemporary employers should consider how employees can work effectively while balancing their family needs, whether that is using technologies to work remotely or creating opportunities to integrate family friendly facilities and polices in the workplace,’ he said.

The Family Room is designed for a range of ages with various toys, Wi-Fi, microwave, fridge, TV and study area incorporated into the space and is centrally located within Parliament House.