Anyone who knows me well will know I am an emotional at the best of times so as I was watching these senators deliver their accompanying speeches about this very important report …well it would be fair to say that there wasn’t a dry eye in my house :)
The report addresses the senate terms of reference but also makes new recommendations addressing concerns raised by witnesses at the inquiry.
To quote Senator Keneally from her speech:
Broadly speaking, this report makes recommendations in three key areas. First, prevention: there are several recommendations that go to how we can help families and clinicians reduce the risk of stillbirth and know when we should intervene to save babies' lives. This includes national education, community campaigns, continuity-of-care models, and education and training for clinicians. Second, investigation: this includes investigating and understanding why stillbirth occurs, in order to better advise families in subsequent pregnancies and to recommend changes to clinical practice. These recommendations include investigating stillbirth properly, which we do not do, and that includes pathology and with autopsies. As a nation, we need to record information about stillbirths consistently and fully in the national dataset and make sure that data is made available to individual families, as well as in aggregate form to healthcare providers and researchers, as quickly as we can. Our recommendations also speak to the need for longer term funding certainty for research. Third, supporting families and clinicians after a stillbirth occurs: this includes care after a stillbirth to support families emotionally and, importantly, to ensure parents have access to paid parental leave and to help co-workers to support these parents when they return to work. Importantly, this report calls for a national stillbirth action plan that starts us on this effort by aiming to reduce the rate of stillbirth over the next three years by 20 per cent. This would be a remarkable achievement after 20 years of stagnation and inertia that has meant that so many lives have been lost and many more irreversibly changed.
There is much to be excited about in this report
Firstly “the committee recommends the Australian government”….is wording that starts most of the recommendations, this is wonderful because it takes the onus off those organisations that are currently struggling with running on a shoe string budget and most importantly means that the resulting action, implementations, advice, consultation, will be truly collaborative and supported by ALL stakeholders keenly interested in reducing the tragedy of stillbirth.
It is also exciting that the recommendations call for a “roundtable” of relevant stakeholders. Again this means that the committee realised that any one existing body would be better as a stakeholder presence at the round table rather than trying to led it. This also frees any one organisation from the responsibility of trying to pull this kind of thing together AND it also means all voices at the table will be likely to be heard
The government responded swiftly to the tabling of this report by putting out a media release (see below) announcing…amongst other things… a national roundtable to address the rate of stillbirth in Australia and a commitment of an “initial” amount of 7.2 million. This is amazing because when government support initiatives in other countries they have seen reduction in stillbirth and one can only assume this is likely to also be the case in this country .