Labor welcomes the Government’s announcement of increased and equal bereavement support for parents of stillborn babies.
Labor called on the Government last November to change bereavement payments to ensure that all parents are treated equally, whether their baby’s heart beat once before death or if their baby was stillborn, and we are pleased to see this change being announced by the Minister.
We also welcome that the Government is changing the Stillborn Baby Payment for a second or subsequent stillbirth.
Labor had highlighted the inconsistency that parents who had a subsequent stillborn baby received a lower payment than for their first stillborn child. The Government’s changes will equalise the payments for families in these tragic situations.
Parents of stillborn babies are parents, yet for years they have not received the same supports as parents whose baby died after a live birth.
When mothers give birth to a stillborn baby they have to recover physically. Both parents have to recover emotionally and also attend to their parenting responsibilities, including autopsy, funeral, cremation or burial, medical evaluation and counselling, and grief counselling. Access to financial support can go some way to helping families at a time when they need it most.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2419 lives were lost due to stillbirth or newborn death in 2018. The majority of these deaths were stillbirths.
Six babies a day are stillborn in Australia. Despite the medical advancements, stillbirth rates in Australia have not changed in two decades and the rate of stillbirth and newborn death is significantly higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Stillbirth is the biggest cause of infant death in Australia and the rate of death from stillbirth is higher than the national road toll. The Senate Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education produced the first national set of recommendations to drive down the stillbirth rate in Australia.
The draft National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan is currently under development.
Thursday 15 October will mark International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day for parents, families and friends to memorialise babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.
SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
LINDA BURNEY MP SHADOW
MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS MEMBER FOR BARTON
SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY CHAIR, SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON STILLBIRTH RESEARCH AND EDUCATION
SENATOR FOR THE NORTHER TERRITORY
SENATOR CATRYNA BILYK SENATOR FOR TASMANIA