Tasmanian Labor Senator Helen Polley has strongly reiterated her plea for the Queensland Government to introduce “Baby Safe Havens” following the abandonment of a newborn in the Logan City suburb of Kingston near Brisbane on Saturday.
Senator Polley said that the circumstances of this last abandonment were particularly heartbreaking. Thankfully this baby was lucky, because it was located in time and its mother was identified.
“We know that the baby was underweight, that he was just a few days old and that he was dumped on the doorstep of a well-known family in the local community. One can only imagine the turmoil this mother must have been experiencing to take this desperate step.
“People like her need help, they need the option of Baby Safe Havens and they need it now. We can’t delay this any longer,” Senator Polley said.
Late last week Senator Polley supported calls from Dr Christian Rowan, President of the Australian Medical Association of Queensland, and the Liberal National Party’s Women’s Redlands branch for Queensland to be the first state or territory in Australia to have such a scheme in place. The LNP Redlands branch successfully carried a motion over a week ago calling on Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to introduce Baby Safe Havens.
“It has been my belief for many years now that we need safe havens and I was pleased to see Dr Rowan and the LNP Women’s Redlands branch publicly back safe havens for Queensland. The abandonment of this particular newborn is just another reminder that Baby Safe Havens need to be made available in all corners of Australia. This baby is not the first to be abandoned and have his precious young life put at risk and he certainly won’t be the last.”
Last week Dr Rowan was quoted widely in the Queensland media advocating for this reform.
"It has the significant benefit of saving lives, not only for newborn babies but also engaging mothers who may have other physical or mental health issues related to what can be the unexpected birth of a baby," Dr Rowan said.
"What this is really about is trying to reduce adverse outcomes and health consequences."
Senator Polley noted that Dr Rowan’s comments demonstrate just why these safe havens are so important.
“I would urge Premier Newman to assist struggling mothers and their new born babies by seizing the initiative to be the first Australian state or territory to legislate for the introduction of Baby Safe Havens. The Queensland Government should not wait any longer,” Senator Polley said.
Senator Polley said that she regularly receives letters, emails and phone calls from people across Australia supporting her efforts to have safe havens widely available.
“It really has been extraordinary how many people have taken the time to contact me about this issue; it is something that many Australians feel is long overdue.
“Recently, we have seen multiple cases of babies being abandoned in Australia, including this latest episode in Queensland. This just shows that there are women who require these safe havens, so there is no good reason why we should not be able to provide them with this service. It is not about removing the responsibility of child birth, it is about assisting women who are desperate. Women who are not psychologically, emotionally or financially equipped to take care of their babies,” Senator Polley said.
Senator Polley also maintained that law makers need to change their perspective about baby abandonment and the safe haven debate.
“I agree with Dr Rowan that we need to look at this issue from a health perspective rather than as a law and order issue. Currently, baby abandonment is treated as a criminal offence Australia wide and this, quite simply, isn’t good enough.”
Senator Polley also pointed out that Baby Safe Havens are being used in health services in many places around the world, including parts of the United States, Canada as well as Germany and Italy.
“So really, what are we waiting for? For yet another tragedy involving a mother leaving her baby in danger by abandoning them in an unsafe place? Premier Newman should heed the calls of the Australian Medical Association of Queensland and act decisively.”