Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
I rise to speak on this motion, which has been brought by the member for Werriwa. I thank the member for Werriwa for her courage in speaking out about this issue and for sharing a very personal experience. I also acknowledge the previous speaker on this, the member for Macarthur, for the work he has done not only in this place but also as a doctor for many, many years looking after not just mothers but also children.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Sunday 15 October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This day acknowledges the shared loss experienced by parents, friends and health workers of those little ones lost too soon, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or any other loss.
The reason I'm speaking on this is personal. I gave birth to two very premature boys, just over 17 years ago now. They were born at 27 weeks—13 weeks premature. Although our outcome was a positive one, during our journey through a number of neonatal intensive care units, including down here at the Canberra Hospital, we saw firsthand some very different outcomes. I think that anyone who has seen a parent go through the loss of a child never forgets it. Certainly we need to do all that we can as a government and as a society to support families, whether it be through a miscarriage, whether it be through a stillbirth or whether it be through some other birth trauma. That's why I support this motion, and I commend the government for providing $5.1 million to organisations to support women and their families following stillbirth or miscarriage. And, 15 October serves as a moving reminder of the universal sadness felt by parents, friends and healthcare professionals in the wake of a devastating loss of infants, however that may have occurred.
I want to speak firstly about miscarriage. Often the joy and excitement that a much hoped for pregnancy brings sadly ends in tragedy and grief for far too many Australians. I've had friends who have gone through miscarriages, and they said for them one of the worst parts was the loneliness and the isolation. Many women miscarry in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, which is usually a time when women don't feel that they can share their joy publicly, so then they often have to go through this quietly with their partner, and there is a big sense of grief during that time.
If we look at the numbers in Australia, 110,000 Australians experience a miscarriage every year, more than 2,000 experience stillbirth and almost 700 lose a baby within the first 28 days after birth. I think this day and this month highlight the recognition of these numbers, which really do underscore the gravity of the issue.
Families undergoing these traumatic events need significant support. No amount of economic or financial support can heal their grief, but it can go some way. Workplace measures which are now in place to help parents suffering through either infant loss or pregnancy loss are of some assistance. Providing that much-needed social support and economic support is something we can do to assist these women and families.
Today serves as an important opportunity, and I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of organisations like Red Nose Australia, Still Aware, SANDS and Miracle Babies. These organisations serve as a key pillar of strength for bereaved parents and families and provide immeasurable guidance and support. By addressing these issues together, we prioritise support for these families. I commend the government for the $5.1 million that's being invested in these organisations.