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Family

Stillborn babies will be included in the census for the first time

This year, stillborn babies will be included in the census for the first time. Instead of just recording ‘live births’ women will be able to record all the children they have given birth to.

By Cat Rodie
Catherine Gregory is a mother of four. But you won’t often hear her say that. While she loves all of her children, the taboo of stillbirth means that she rarely mentions her daughters, Molly and Poppy, who were born sleeping.
But new legislation could help to break the taboo.
This year, stillborn babies will be included in the census for the first time. Instead of just recording ‘live births’ women will be able to record all the children they have given birth to.
Kristina Keneally is the patron of the Stillbirth Foundation. She told 702 ABC Sydney that she has always felt angry that she couldn’t acknowledge her daughter Caroline, who was stillborn in 2000, in the census figures.
"Every year when I fill out that census I've been a bit rankled and a bit angry because the instruction says how many births have you had ... it's always stipulated live births,"
Keneally says that the change shows that our communities are becoming more aware of stillbirth.
There's a growing awareness in the community that children who are born still, who are not born alive, are nonetheless children."
"They are part of the family, they are given names, they are buried, they are honoured,” she said.
The Australian Bureau of statistics made the change in response to complaints from parents across the country.
Ashley McBride, a mother from the ACT told the Canberra Times that is important to recognise the number of stillbirths across the country each year.
"The Census flyer says everyone counts and that the information helps to shape our community and future needs such as hospitals," she said.
"That being the case, the ABS needs to be confronted with the number of stillbirths in Australia every year.
"I occupied a bed at the Canberra Hospital for three days when I gave birth. This recognition would allow for greater funding for hospitals, including research and support services for bereaved families."
Catherine Gregory hopes that the move will provide more data on the issue of stillbirth. “I hope the information leads to better resources and that this will help to reduce the rate of stillbirth in Australia.”
But on a much more personal level, Gregory is happy that for once, her girls will matter.
“It’s heartbreaking when you don’t count all your children,” she says.

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