Monday, 18 October 2021
International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
[by video link] I too wish to recognise International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, commemorated on Friday 15 October, and I thank all the other senators for their contributions on this issue. Today is a bittersweet day. It is the first time we have commemorated Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day since both houses of parliament resolved to recognise it. I welcome the efforts we're making to commemorate this day, including by our national parliament, but, at the same time, I deeply regret that a campaign like this still needs to exist. On this day, we pay respects to the more than 100,000 babies lost to miscarriage, over 2,000 lost to stillbirth and over 600 lost to neonatal death each year, and to their families.
The report of the Senate Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education pressed the need to break through what it called the culture of silence around stillbirth. It's this culture of silence, this taboo, that has led to policy inertia in addressing Australia's unacceptably high rate of stillbirth and compounded the grief of families suffering pregnancy loss and infant loss by silencing and isolating them.
I say to anyone who has suffered loss from miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death: you are not alone. The culture around discussing pregnancy and infant loss has to change, and it will. I'm confident of that because those of us who have experienced this loss will not be silent. I've always talked to Timothy since 1983, when he was born, even if it made others feel uncomfortable. We need to be able to share our stories and our grief if we choose to do so. We need to acknowledge our babies and how they died. We need to talk about our love for them. We will say their names. My first child has a name. His name is Timothy Robert Bilyk.