Minister for Human Services
International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
Thursday 15th October

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Human Services) – Madam Speaker, today 15 October is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which acknowledges all those affected by pregnancy and infant loss. Sadly, there are over 40 stillbirths and 20 newborn deaths every year in Tasmania. One in four Tasmanian women will also experience a miscarriage; in fact, every 3.5 minutes a woman is miscarrying a baby in Australia. This means that there are a significant number of families in our community who at some point will have to deal with the pain of such a loss, yet it is something people are rarely willing to talk about.

From being a mum myself and from being a registered nurse I know how difficult it is to deal with the loss of a pregnancy or an infant, not only for the affected families but also for the medical staff who deal with grieving families as part of their professional role. It is important to recognise the courage displayed by everyone who is touched by these sad life events.

I particularly commend members of the Bears of Hope organisation which provides support and information services to affected families and today organised a special gathering on Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The support network that Bears of Hope has created offers care and comfort to families in their greatest time of need.

It was the Tasmanian arm of Bears of Hope that first made the Attorney-General and other members of parliament, like Ms Ogilvie and myself, aware of the number of families affected by pregnancy and infant loss, as well as the need for miscarriage, stillbirths, and new born deaths to be suitably commemorated as an important step in the grieving process.

I am delighted that the Attorney-General, Vanessa Goodwin MLC, has stated that from today parents who lose babies earlier than 20 weeks gestation can apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages for a commemorative certificate to recognise their loss. There is no cost to apply or receive this certificate. This will bring Tasmania into line with similar arrangements already operating in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The Australian Capital Territory is also planning to offer an early pregnancy loss certificate in the near future.

We sincerely hope that these certificates may provide some comfort, assistance and healing to grieving parents and their families by acknowledging the loss of their baby and enabling them to take some comfort that their child was special and will not be forgotten on this special remembrance day.