Parental Leave

Rick Dolling

Manager, WA Market Operations & Support

I recently returned to work after taking a few months off using AEMO’s new parental leave policy. My wife was returning to work after almost a year on maternity leave and I took over primary carer responsibilities for the last few months of my son Sebastian’s first year. The experience was incredible, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity.

Taking the time off was also a great learning experience and something I would recommend. I’d summarise the key insights as:

1. Quality time with family is priceless. As someone who is quite career focused and struggles to switch off when there is still work to be done (both professional and personal), I have often found myself distracted when spending time with family. Dedicating an extended period of time to just being a dad and husband has shown me that being focused on my family and not stressed about other things is very valuable and much more enjoyable.

2. Being the primary carer is no easy task! Before taking leave, I thought the work involved in being the primary carer was easy compared to my job. How wrong was I! I have a newfound respect for the work involved in being the primary carer, especially for those that do it alone. While it’s not easy, being around to help and watch Seb develop was a very rewarding experience.

3. Taking leave is ok, and there is never a perfect time. When I took leave I was managing 14 analysts, the organisation was in the initial stages of an operating model review, and a number of my accountabilities were nearing critical milestones. AEMO’s WA management team and my team members gave me all the support required to take the time off and focus on Seb, and everything went smoothly in my absence. This has demonstrated to me that a healthy work life balance is truly part of AEMO’s culture, something I intend to continue supporting as a manager.

Now we have made it through the first year and my wife and I are planning our second baby. After my experience I definitely intend to take parental leave again and am sure I will have many more learnings with two children look after!

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