‘It should all be self-explanatory’: Judge addresses jury over breastfeeding action

The judge who ordered a breastfeeding mother and her child to leave a Melbourne court has addressed the jury of the trial on Friday after his decision received media attention.

The woman was feeding her child while observing a matter in the Victorian County Court on Thursday when the judge addressed her directly.

The judge told the jury on Friday he was about to bring them into the courtroom for a closing argument, when he addressed the member of the public seated in the court, who was breastfeeding her child.

“It should all be self-explanatory, members of the jury, what I said was this, and I am reading from the transcripts: ‘Madam, you will not be permitted to breastfeed a baby in court. I’m sorry. I will have to ask you to leave. It will be a distraction for the jury at the very least. Thank you’.

“I’m telling you this because it is something that has attracted some media publicity, and I think you need to know exactly what it was that I said and why I said it. As I said a moment ago, I think that it is self-explanatory.”

The judge told the jury to put the matter out of mind and focus on the trial.

“I am simply raising it for the sake of you having an accurate account of what I said and why I said it.”

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes will discuss the matter with the courts.

“These concerning reports are a matter for the County Court,” a government spokesperson said.

“However, no woman deserves to be shamed and humiliated for public breastfeeding.“

Minister for Early Childhood and Pre-Prep Ingrid Stitt was also asked about it at a press conference on Friday. She said the incident was disappointing.

“It’s 2023, for goodness sake … [women] should never feel that they can’t actually feed their child,” Stitt said.

“The important message for Victorian women is that we support you and your right to be able to care for your children, and if that means you have to breastfeed in a public building, then that is something that should not only be tolerated, but celebrated.”

More to come

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