On Wednesday 11 November, the House approved the Stillborn Baby Payment, announced by Senator Anne Ruston, Minister for Social Services, in September 2020 (link to announcement here).
This payment affords parents of stillborn babies the same safety net as parents who experience infant death, and equalises the payment for parents who suffer subsequent stillbirths (where previously, the payment was half).
Speaking in the House on 11 November, Dr. Anne Webster, Member for Mallee, said, “From 1 January 2021, all eligible families who suffer a stillbirth will receive $3,606 regardless of whether this is their first or subsequent stillbirth. I understand that no amount of money could ever compensate for the grief of losing a child, but these new measures will minimise the financial impact of this unspeakable loss. I hope that addressing the inconsistencies in this payment goes some way to acknowledge the trauma these parents experience and supports them as they move forward with their lives.”
The Foundation thanks Minister Ruston for her support of this legislation, and the ongoing, bipartisan support of the Federal Government for their attention to these important matters.
Please read below for some history on the stillborn baby payment disrepancy.
HISTORY: Under current legislation, a family whose baby dies shortly after birth is entitled to a bereavement payment, while parents of stillborn babies are NOT. This payment entitles families to continue to receive Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A for that child (means tested – up to $186.20 per fortnight) for up to 14 weeks.
If parents are not receiving Parental Leave Pay, there is a one-off stillborn baby payment of $2,239.86, which is consistent with the Newborn Supplement and Newborn Upfront Payments. For subsequent stillbirths; however, which we know happens all too frequently, that stillborn baby payment is halved.
The Foundation is working with the Government and the Social Services Minister to rectify these discrepancies. We will update you as we make progress.