REGIONAL women are optimistic the Federal Government's controversial paid parental leave scheme will provide financial support to rural areas not seen before and potentially reduce community health costs.
But as Treasurer Joe Hockey chalks up the scheme as a "massive win" for regional Australia, there are fears the very people likely to benefit will not even stick up their hands.
The scheme would replace a woman's wage for six months, up to a cap of $50,000, but it has received much criticism and there are concerns it might not pass through the Senate.
South Burnett beef producer Georgie Somerset said if regional women were contributing to their business or working in their business, not necessarily earning a wage, then the paid parental leave scheme could be an avenue of support not currently available.
Ms Somerset, who is Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women's Network president, said it was hard to know what the final policy would look like but there seemed to be a number of wider benefits for regional women.
"A lot of businesses are operated by women in regional communities - in towns and on properties," she said.
"If we can provide support for them when they are in the early stages of parenting, the research shows there will be long-term health benefits for the parents and the baby and reduced community health cost as well."
Ms Somerset said she was concerned that regional women would count themselves out if the scheme succeeded.
She said the government should ensure eligibility was written in plain English, with clear examples for self-employed people from running a newsagency to running a property.
Farmer Alison Mobbs, who has a property 190km south of Blackall, said she was involved in business management, financial planning and meeting tax obligations, as well as record keeping for livestock and agistments.
But she was also out mustering or helping in the yard if needed.
"Anything that can support women in rural, regional and remote areas to continue operating their businesses and raise a family is fantastic," she said.
"It's great to see recognition of the role women play in running the family farm.
"That has often been ignored in the past."
Mrs Mobbs said it would be interesting to see what the requirements were to justify a woman's contribution to the family farm.
She said if it was an hours per week commitment, it would be hard to prove the tasks women performed.
Mr Hockey said the PPL scheme was "a no brainer for regional Australia".
"It is a massive win for farmers who don't have paid parental leave schemes," he said.
"Farmers are self-employed and, for a lot of the mums in a farming household, they don't get paid parental leave and now they are going to have replacement wages plus superannuation."
Amid suggestions the scheme would not pass in the Senate, Mr Hockey said it was important for small businesses to be on the same level playing field as large businesses and the public service in delivering paid maternity leave.