LABOR CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT TO END STILLBIRTH PAYMENT INEQUITIES

25 November 2019

SENATOR THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
 
CHRIS BOWEN MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH
MEMBER FOR MCMAHON
 
LINDA BURNEY MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS
MEMBER FOR BARTON
 

LABOR CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT TO END STILLBIRTH PAYMENT INEQUITIES
  
Today in the Senate, Labor will call for the Government to equalise bereavement payments for parents of stillborn babies.

Almost 2,200 Australian children are stillborn every year. Six a day. For Indigenous women, the rate of stillbirth is much higher.

It is the biggest cause of infant death in our country today. The rate of death from stillbirth is higher than the national road toll.

As well as implementing the recommendations, the notice of motion in the Senate today, co-sponsored by the Greens, will ask the Government to ensure equitable financial support is available to all parents and families experiencing the death of a child prior to, at, or near the time of birth by extending eligibility for bereavement payments to parents of stillborn children and increasing stillborn baby payments for second and subsequent stillbirths to be commensurate with the entitlements for a first stillbirth.

Under the current social security system, eligible parents who lose a child are entitled to the Family Tax Benefit Bereavement Payment, equivalent to 14 weeks of the Family Tax Benefit.

The amount a family receives varies depending on their circumstances, and varies between $1,500 and $2,700 for an average family. 

Currently, parents are only eligible for this payment if a baby’s heart beats after birth. If it beats once, you receive a payment, if your baby is born without a heartbeat, you don’t.

That support should also apply for a family whose baby hasn’t made it through child birth.  

It’s only fair that the bereavement payment for parents of stillborn children is equal. Likewise, it is only fair for subsequent stillborn baby payments for subsequent stillbirths to be equal.

The grief is the same and the support should be the same.

The Government will have our full support in equalising these payments, as they do in implementing the recommendations from the Senate Stillbirth Inquiry.