Labor wants bereavement payments for stillbirths

Chris Bowen. Photo: Getty
Chris Bowen. Photo: Getty

FEDERAL Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen says the parents of stillborn babies are being denied a bereavement payment and is demanding an end to what he’s described as an appalling injustice.

The opposition health spokesman has told a national forum on stillbirths about the loss of two brothers decades ago – one of whom was stillborn and another who died two days after birth.

A bereavement payment for parents who lose their babies isn’t being given to the parents of stillborn babies because the rules say a baby’s heart must beat at least once for them to qualify.

“If your baby is born without a heartbeat, you don’t get the payment,” Mr Bowen told the forum in Brisbane on Thursday.

“This isn’t on. No amount of money deals with grief. But the social security system should recognise all bereavements.”

Mr Bowen condemned the denial of bereavement payments to parents of stillborn babies.

“The grief is the same, the support should be the same,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Bowen told of his own family history, after the loss of two brothers.

“I’m one of four boys, one of four brothers, but only two of us are alive today,” he said.

He recounted the “unspeakable” suffering his mother, who was denied a chance to hold them, endured.

“She wasn’t allowed to hold her baby. She wasn’t allowed to say goodbye.”

She also wasn’t told where the boys were buried.

But 30 years later she decided to find out.

Mr Bowen’s mother discovered where Douglas – the child who survived for two days – was buried.

But for the boy who died before birth, there were no records.