Parents of stillborn babies will have improved access to bereavement payments under changes to support for families dealing with the personal, social and financial impacts after the loss of a child.
The Morrison Government has committed $7.6 million to ensure that all eligible families who experience a stillbirth or the death of a child under 12 months of age will receive up to $3,606.81 in support payments.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said this would help provide additional financial support to about 900 families each year.
“The loss of a child is truly devastating and we understand that no amount of money could ever deal with the grief these families experience,” Minister Ruston said.
“The Stillborn Baby Payment and Bereavement Payment provided through Family Tax Benefit are there to support families cope with expenses after the tragic death of an infant.
“By introducing a single rate of Stillborn Baby Payment we are addressing inconsistences in levels of support provided through the social security system to better recognise all bereavements.”
This measure introduces a single Stillborn Baby payment rate, replacing the system where payments to families suffering subsequent stillbirths were made at a lower rate, and now will be equivalent to the Bereavement Payment which was previously not provided to parents of stillborn babies.
It also provides families who have received a lower rate of the Newborn Supplement for the birth of their second or subsequent child up to $1,139.32 if their child tragically passes away before their first birthday.
Stillbirth Foundation Australia chief executive Leigh Brezler thanked the Government for acknowledging these parents and supporting them in their time of great loss.
“This announcement goes a long way to validating the experiences of parents of stillborn babies who go through their pregnancies expecting to take their babies home from hospital not leave with empty arms and a giant hole in their hearts,” Ms Brezler said.
This initiative builds on the Government’s $43.9 million Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program, announced in the 2019–20 Budget to prioritise mental health to 2024–25.
These changes will complement the improvements to unpaid parental leave entitlements through the Fair Work Amendment (Improving Unpaid Parental Leave for Parents of Stillborn Babies and Other Measures) Bill 2020, which the Attorney-General introduced in Parliament earlier this month which will guarantee 12-months of unpaid leave for all eligible new parents, including those who experience stillbirth or infant death.