RIVERLINK shopping centre has defended creating a women and children-only area for breastfeeding mothers in the centre's parent change rooms.
The issue was raised after a shopper complained when her husband wasn't allowed in the breastfeeding area, and accused the shopping centre of being sexist towards men.
But a Riverlink spokeswoman said the introduction of the curtained-off area was triggered by complaints from mothers seeking privacy as they breastfed their children.
The spokeswoman said men were allowed into the change rooms but behind the curtain was for women and children only.
An expanded and dedicated breastfeeding room is planned for the next financial year in the change room near the food court.
The development is expected to remove the problem.
"We have allocated funds in the 2012-13 budget for an extension to the existing parents' room facility near the food court," the spokeswoman said.
"It would be a dedicated breastfeeding area and would allow the current curtained-off area to be opened up for parents who want further separation from the feeding/changing area," she said.
"We are hoping to fast track this though and are currently talking to the owner about the early allocation of funds."
Australian Breastfeeding Association representatives were consulted before the area was given the green light.
"After complaints from breastfeeding mothers that Riverlink did not have a private area where they could feed their babies without men watching, a section in each of the three parents' rooms was curtained off at the suggestion of Australian Breastfeeding Association."
The change rooms are located near Target, adjacent to the food court and in the East Mall, with the curtained area clearly signed.
"Each of the parents' rooms still has the facility for both parents to feed and change their children.
"Unfortunately when the centre was designed, breastfeeding areas were not considered and the only area that we can now extend is the food court facility."
Maya Griffiths, from the Australian Breastfeeding Association's Queensland branch, supported Riverlink's implementation of the women-only area.
"In the interim it's a good strategy," she said.
"If women want privacy they can go behind the curtain."
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- Breastfeeding protects babies from illness, infection and provides the correct food for a growing baby.
- Breastfeeding can help women lose weight after childbirth.
- Breast milk aids the development of a baby's eyesight, speech and intelligence.
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