International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2018

Written on the 22 August 2018

22 August 2018


International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


I am very pleased to be able to rise in support of Ms Fitzherbert's motion, and I want to place on record that we have just heard from Mr Bourman the very raw and real emotion that he as a parent has experienced, and there are others in this chamber who are siblings who never knew their sister or brother. There are many people in our community, Mr Bourman, as you say, who have experienced the loss of a child, and it is a very devastating event for anyone very emotional.

I would like to also pay tribute to Anne-Maree Polimeni, a brave woman who really put this into the spotlight for Ms Fitzherbert and me, along with Cr Felicity Sinfield, who wanted to acknowledge and say that more needs to be done about this in relation to that awareness of all of those people who have had a child who was stillborn. At that very moving event, as Ms Fitzherbert said, along with our colleague the member for Kew in the Assembly, Mr Smith, and others from the community, we came together in support of what Anne-Maree and her husband, Alan, were doing in relation to bringing awareness to the community.

Also at the event was Professor Euan Wallace, who is very well known. Ms Pulford referred to what the government is doing. Professor Wallace is leading the way in relation to some of the initiatives the government has put forward, but he also was at that very important commemorative day and he is somebody who has got a wealth of knowledge and understanding in this area. He is well-renowned and distinguished in the area of obstetrics and gynaecology. He also came before the Family and Community Development Committee's inquiry into perinatal services and spoke of the statistics, of those numbers of stillbirths in Victoria and the issue of research and what is being done around Victoria indeed around various populations and various cohorts in Victoria but more generally around his experience and what he knows from collective data around the country and also his understanding from international studies. In the evidence that he gave to the inquiry he spoke about the composite of the numbers of stillbirths, so that they include babies born alive from 20 weeks of gestation onwards. He spoke about that composite and the neonatal deaths that are included in some of these statistics, but he made the point that the perinatal mortality rate is made up largely of stillbirths about six per 1000. That is the latest data that we have on that, and it is still very high and work still needs to be done.

Ms Springle spoke about the Senate inquiry and the research and what needs to be done in terms of the support services, and I think we all agree on that. We can always do more, but in this country we are extremely lucky that we have got so many well-regarded and international leaders in this space and that we are showing the way. However, that does not take away from the raw emotion of those people who have been the parents, or of entire families.

Ms Fitzherbert read out some of those comments that Ms Polimeni has made in relation to how it impacted her family, and I also read some of her comments on her blog and they were heartfelt and they were deep and meaningful and they demonstrate the impact on her family and on her children and how she still talks about Rafael and commemorates and remembers him as part of their family, with her husband and her two boys. I am just going to read some of that too because these are the very heartfelt words that were written, as we have just heard the heartfelt words from Mr Bourman. In this blog she said:

This year, I was supposed to be a mother of a newborn baby. I was supposed to be the mother of three boys all living. I was supposed be living a really busy, sleep-deprived and chaotic life full of breastfeeding, nappies, milestones and wonder and loving it and I'm not.

And that is the reality for her and that is the reality for thousands of parents in our community, and that is why this is important. This day will go towards recognising what others have recognised in other jurisdictions both internationally but also here in Australia. New South Wales, Western Australia and more recently Tasmania have moved in recognising 15 October each year as the International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is something that we as a community can do. We can collectively do that, we can easily do that and we should do that. I think it is very heartening to hear that those who have spoken in the chamber today are all supporting the motion of Ms Fitzherbert. It is something that she and I, as I have said, have worked on, and we wanted to make sure that the Parliament would understand the importance of why we think it is important that 15 October this year, 2018, be recognised in Victoria, and it is this initiative, this motion, this debate we are having today that will put this day on the record here in Victoria.

Ms Fitzherbert did talk about our collective experiences at the Royal Women's Hospital, and it is something that I very fondly recall on many, many occasions. I still have friends there who just do the most extraordinary work day in, day out caring for Victorian women and their families and their newborns. There is no greater privilege than to be with someone in their last hours of living or to be there to support a family member who has lost a family member or, in this instance in my experience at the Royal Women's Hospital, parents who have lost a child. Giving dignity to the young life is something that I believe always is and always was done. People grieve in different ways but the dignity of that life is always important to recognise. It was an enormous privilege to have been with some of those families and to share with them, to look after them and to support them immediately after their children were stillborn or in the hours later when they were still grieving and needed to view and look at their children in order to remember them and to have those keepsakes, whether it was a lock of hair or a footprint in a memory folder. All those elements are so important for a grieving family. It is hugely important.

I know this happens on too many occasions, young babies or neonates dying or children being stillborn, and it is an incredibly difficult time for all involved. For those parents knowing when they are told that their baby has died that they have to deal with that, they do so magnificently in many instances. Love and support is given to them by so many from different services, and I commend all the people that provide that but none more so than those obviously close around them: their families. It was a huge privilege to be involved in the care of some of those families during my time at the Women's, and I recall too many sad instances where I unfortunately had to undertake that task.

I think this is an important motion. I am very pleased that the government and other members of this chamber are supporting Ms Fitzherbert's motion. I look forward to 15 October when Victoria will join other states in recognising stillborn and infant loss. International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day will mean a lot to all those parents and families that have lost children under these circumstances. I commend the motion to the house.



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