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Monday, 30 August 2021
Page: 5442

Senator McCARTHY (Northern TerritoryDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (10:44): [by video link] I support the Fair Work Amendment (Improving Paid Parental Leave for Parents of Stillborn Babies) Bill 2021. On 4 December 2018 I tabled a report as chair of the Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education. I carried that report into this place on a coolamon, symbolic of the way First Nations people have carried their cherished babies. I said at the time that this committee and the recommendations contained in the report would make a change and would make a difference. I'm incredibly proud of the work of this committee and the change that it has driven so far—change to make a difference in the lives of parents and in the lives of babies. But, importantly, change must happen to honour the babies that have been lost, to honour the spirits of the children yet to come and to honour and recognise the stories that families shared on this committee's journey, the stories of loss and grief and ongoing trauma.

This legislation is part of that journey, part of the ongoing work of the committee to acknowledge and honour all of those who participated in it. I am proud of the work that has carried on since the report was tabled in 2018, but there is still an enormous amount of work to do to tackle the fiscal, social and emotional toll of stillbirth in our country. In Australia six babies are lost to stillbirth each day, or approximately 2,200 babies every year. The rate of death from stillbirth is higher than the national road toll, and stillbirth is a No. 1 cause of death for infants. Stillbirths directly and indirectly cost the economy $681 million between 2016 and 2020.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Carol Brown ): Senator McCarthy, we seem to have lost the audio. We might have to go to Senator Bilyk.