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Home :: Blog :: Blog :: Australia Votes for Birth Choices

Australia Votes for Birth Choices

aus-birth-choices-finalTake Action during the Federal Election to protect women’s birth choices.

  • Tell your Federal election candidates that you want them to remove the doctor’s veto over women’s access to Medicare for midwives. Ask them if they will commit to doing this if elected.
  • Tell your candidates that you want them to protect women’s rights to choice in birth, and ask if they will commit to this (See the Sample Letter that can be sent to your local candidates).
  • You can give these messages by writing, phoning, or stopping and talking to your candidate while they campaign in your electorate. You can call talkback, write emails to the editor, or wave a placard at an event.
  • Anyone with a Twitter account, tweet PM @JuliaGillard then use hashtags such as #ausvotes and #birth, #homebirth, #vbac, #hbac #humanrights etc. Then retweet as much as possible.

facebook-mybirthJoin the Facebook group Australia Votes for Birth Choices to keep up to date with the campaign.

The Roxon Maternity Reform Agenda

In May 2009 the Government announced long-awaited reforms to Australia’s maternity care system, to give women better “choice and access” in their maternity care:

  • Medicare rebates for women receiving care from expert midwives
  • A solution to midwives’ professional indemnity insurance problems
  • Boosted funding for rural maternity services
  • $120.5 million new funding

These reforms promised to greatly improve women’s control, choices, continuity of care and access to community-based care, in the most significant reform yet to the Medicare system.

The Medical Veto

After months of intense pressure on Government from wealthy medical interest groups, regulations gazetted in July 2010 now require each Medicare payment for midwifery care to have a form of approval from a doctor.

  • Control of taxpayer’s health dollars has been taken from women and families, and handed to millionaire specialist doctors.
  • Anti-competitive influence imposed on the health care market, giving one group of providers control over consumer access to another group of providers of the same business service.
  • Midwives subject to defacto “parallel regulation”, with doctors and regulators setting different conditions for midwifery practice.
  • “Collaborative arrangements” required by regulations cannot be made with hospitals, even though most private midwives consult and refer to hospitals rather than individual doctors.
  • The requirements do not improve “safety”, “access” or “continuity” for Australian mothers.

Fix this for women and families!

  • Remove requirements for permission from a doctor from Medicare for midwives legislation.
  • A commitment that women’s rights to informed consent (including the right of refusal) will be expressly recognised in all codes, guidelines and frameworks relating to midwifery practice
  • Give women continuity of care through visiting rights for midwives in public hospitals.
  • A commitment to funding and insurance for homebirth to ensure equity for all Australian women and collaboration requirement to be taken out of the Quality and Safety Framework for Home Birth.

What mothers and midwives can do right now to try to change this!

  • Join the federal phone tree, email your name and location to federalphone2010@gmail.com and you will be smsed if the PM or the opposition leader is in your area. You can either go to where they are and ask direct questions about the medical veto to midwives (you can copy the “Company Overview:” and “Mission” statements from this information page to hand to your candidates or the party leaders, or just stand and silently protest with a sign saying something like:

“Who controls birth in Australia? Women, Govt or the AMA?”
“Drs controlling birth. What good is a female PM to us?”
“No Dr veto over my birth.”
“My birth. My baby. My choice.”
“AMA hands off my birth.”
“Defend women’s choice.”
“I give birth. I vote”
“Collaborate not dominate”.

  • Tell your Federal election candidates that you want them to remove the doctor’s veto over women’s access to Medicare for midwives. Ask them if they will commit to doing this if elected.
  • Tell your candidates that you want them to protect women’s rights to choice in birth, and ask if they will commit to this (See the Sample Letter that can be sent to your local candidates).
  • You can give these messages by writing, phoning, or stopping and talking to your candidate while they campaign in your electorate. You can call talkback, write emails to the editor, or wave a placard at an event.
  • Anyone with a Twitter account, tweet PM @JuliaGillard then use hashtags such as #ausvotes and #birth, #homebirth, #vbac, #hbac #humanrights etc. Then retweet as much as possible.

To find your Federal electorate go to: http://apps.aec.gov.au/esearch/

Sample Candidate Letter

[date] 2010
[Your address]
[Federal Candidates Name]
[Address]
By email: [candidates emai]

Dear [INSERT CANDIDATES NAME],

Re: Maternity reform

I am a voter in the electorate of [INSERT ELECTORATE]. I am writing to let you know my views on the issue of maternity reform and ask what you (and your party) will do on this issue if elected.

[Give some background about yourself – how many children do you have, where were born, why is this issue so important to you. Using your own words is really important].

I am particularly concerned about the recent regulations that were made defining collaborative arrangements. I am worried that these regulations effectively mean that women’s birth choices will be subject to medical veto. I believe that this will mean that the reforms initiated by Minister Roxon will not meet their goals of giving Australian women greater access to continuity of maternity care.

[Perhaps explain why continuity of midwifery care is important to you. You might also like to give any examples you have of poor collaboration from hospitals or doctors].

I would appreciate if you could let me know your position on the following:

1. Do you agree that the requirement for permission from a doctor should be removed from the Medicare for midwives regulations?

2. Do you agree that women’s rights to informed consent (including right of refusal) should be expressly recognised in all codes, guidelines and frameworks relating to midwifery practice?

3. Do you support a long-term solution for women to continue to have access to midwife-attended homebirth?

4. Do you support the states providing mechanisms for visiting access for midwives in private practice into public hospitals?

These issues are of great importance to my family and will impact on which party I vote for in the upcoming election. I look forward to receiving your response to help me determine who I will vote for.
Your faithfully,

[YOUR NAME]

Please join the Facebook group and submit the responses that you receive from candidates in the discussion area.

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