Senate debates

Monday, 18 October 2021


International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

1:30 pm

Photo of Kristina KeneallyKristina Keneally (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

On Friday 15 October, Australia observed International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day to honour and remember all babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth and perinatal death. In February this parliament passed a motion that I moved to eternally recognise this day. I thank Senators McCarthy, Polley, Rice, Molan, Bilyk, Waters and Hughes for their support of the motion.

In Australia, hundreds of thousands of parents marked this day. In Australia, one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Six babies are stillborn every day. Perinatal deaths—that is, the death of a baby in the weeks just before, during or after birth—number around 3,000 a year in Australia, and, of those deaths, 2,200 are stillborn.

Today I also want to honour John and Kate De'Laney. Kate and John have been instrumental in ensuring that 15 October is recognised in Australia, including via a campaign to light up public buildings, from coast to coast, in pink and blue. John and Kate have been incredibly generous in sharing their story of loss, and, in doing so, they have given so many parents the opportunity, the courage and the support to share theirs. My husband, Ben, and I also marked 15 October, as our daughter Caroline was stillborn in 1999. I acknowledge that many other senators and MPs also know the loss of their babies. Ben and I join all parents in Australia who know the loss of a loved and cherished baby through either miscarriage, stillbirth or perinatal death. We remember you, tinged with sadness but in recognition of the love that you have for your children.

1:32 pm

Photo of Jim MolanJim Molan (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On Wednesday last week, my stillborn granddaughter Emily Charlotte Sutton would have turned 14, but instead we commemorated the 14th anniversary of her shattering death. On Friday last week, her mother—my daughter Sarah—turned 40, a milestone birthday. It wasn't celebrated with family and friends, but only because of COVID health orders in all states.

Today I stand in this place as a former soldier not unfamiliar with death and violence, as a senator for New South Wales who has devoted much of my time to national security and as an ordinary Australian returning to the workplace after a five-month period of medical treatment in which the magnificent healthcare professionals and health services of this nation essentially saved my life. For the good wishes I received from you, my colleagues, I thank you most sincerely. However, I am absolutely incapable of thinking of any sentiment more important to me today, or of any commemoration more significant, than to mourn the cherished children whose loss through miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death is suffered each year by thousands of Australian families.

I was honoured to be a member of the Senate Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education, which, in 2018, examined in great detail the significant and far-reaching impacts of stillbirth in Australia. I welcome the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan, published in December last year and developed under the oversight of the National Stillbirth Project Reference Group—again, established by the then Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council. This plan has ambitious goals, but, with the commitment and support of the many Australians invested in the recognition of stillbirth and pregnancy loss as a public health issue in need of a strategic approach, I am hopeful that these goals will be met and that, when we meet again, we will see rates reduced, equity gaps abolished and respectful support extended to all. (Time expired)