Tasmanian Labor Senator Helen Polley has urged the Queensland Government to introduce “Baby Safe Havens” following calls from the state’s medical community to allow mothers to anonymously give up their babies.
Dr Christian Rowan, President of Australian Medical Association of Queensland, has expressed support for the idea of safe haven legislation as part of a broader plan aimed at assisting struggling new mothers. This comes after the Liberal National Party’s Women’s Redlands branch successfully carried a motion on the weekend calling on Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to introduce Baby Safe Havens in the state.
Dr Rowan was quoted widely in the Queensland media advocating for such a 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 says 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 says 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. 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 maintains 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 points 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 in an unsafe place? Premier Newman should heed the calls of the Australian Medical Association of Queensland and act decisively. There are struggling mothers and babies out there that need our support.”