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Renn Holland. Image: Johan Bävman

Aussie Dads

Johan Bävman wants to start a conversation on parental leave through photography

Proudly sponsored by Sydney Opera House Major Partner Westpac. Produced by Parents At Work and the Swedish Institute.

Sweden was the first country in the world to replace maternity leave with parental leave, in 1974. More than 40 years later, fathers take roughly a quarter of the total number of days available to the couple. If paternity leave for fathers continues to increase at the same pace it has kept so far this century, the use of parental leave will not be gender equal until 2040.


Swedish Dads is a photo exhibition showing portraits of fathers who choose to stay home with their babies for at least six months. Photographer Johan Bävman examines why these fathers have chosen to stay home, what the experience has given them, and how their relationship with both their partners and children has changed from it. The exhibition aims to show the effects of gender equality in parenting on both individuals and society.

Andrew Hii with his three kids. Image: Johan Bävman
Alex Laguna playing with his kids. Image: Johan Bävman

What about Aussie dads?

Currently, only 2% of dads take parental leave in Australia. The reasons for this are varied and the impact is significant — both in the home and the workplace. Australia does not have a nationally legislated ‘shared parental leave’ approach to parental leave and as such fathers are often sidelined as the ‘secondary carer’ taking no longer than two weeks off — if at all. For the most part this is because breadwinner / homemaker gender ideals are still very entrenched in society and the workplace.

As part of a global initiative to support parental leave equality for fathers and encourage organisations to do the same, Parents At Work and Johan Bävman produced the  Aussie Dads photo series with the support of Westpac, Deloitte, Scentre Group, Lendlease, KPMG, PwC, HSBC, Gilbert + Tobin, Macquarie Bank, Karitane, the Embassy of Sweden, and the Swedish-Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Aussie Dads, like its Swedish counterpart, is a collection of 20 portraits of Australian fathers who have taken extended parental leave to stay at home with their new born babies. The photos are designed to start a conversation in our workplaces and community, and — to improve and widen the opportunities for men to equally participate in parental leave and engage in flexible work.

Renn Holland. Image: Johan Bävman

About the photographer

Johan Bävman is a freelance photographer based in Malmö, Sweden. Johan has received many awards for his images, including World Press Photo, POY, the Sony Award, NPPA, UNICEF Photography Award, Swedish news agency TT’s grand prize, and Picture of the Year in Sweden.

‘I use portraits of fathers with their children in everyday situations,’ says Bävman, ‘and interviews with dads to aim the spotlight on fathers who prioritise the connection to their children and family before their job and career. But the focus is also on the universal and loving aspects of parenting, regardless of whether you are the mother or father.’

See the free outdoor exhibition at the Western Broadwalk, Sydney Opera House, from 23 - 31 August 2018.

Proudly sponsored by Sydney Opera House Major Partner Westpac. Produced by Parents At Work and the Swedish Institute. 

This exhibition is produced by Parents At Work and the Swedish Institute (SI) with principal partners Westpac and Deloitte.

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