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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2988 ..


MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.51): Pregnancy loss and the loss of an infant are tragic and traumatic events for parents and their loved ones. The shock, the disbelief, the confusion and the guilt that can come with this loss can have long-lasting psychological and social impacts for a family and for their loved ones.

Next Friday, 15 October, is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is an opportunity to recognise the impact of pregnancy losses, miscarriages, stillbirths, newborn deaths and infant loss; to pause to commemorate the loss to families throughout the ACT, Australia and the world; to break the silence and taboo which can sometimes surround the loss and further deepen the grief felt by families; and to commemorate the health providers and the loved ones who have supported parents and families through this time.

Miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death and infant loss continue to be hidden tragedies that remain poorly understood and, sadly, shrouded in stigma. Too often, parents can feel blame, a sense of failure, shame or guilt that it has happened to their family, and too often the parents’ loved ones can feel their own grief and helplessness to support the parents and confusion on what to say or what to do. While we cannot prevent these feelings we can say to parents and loved ones that your grief is valid; your grief is justified. We can acknowledge the immense impact that this loss has on lives at the time of loss and in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Recognising this day and what it means is invaluable and I am proud to stand with my colleagues on all sides of the chamber today and on behalf of the ACT government. In addition to this very important formal recognition of this day that we are providing in this place today, there is another way we can provide recognition. Where there is pregnancy loss after 20 weeks a birth certificate and a death certificate are legally required, but there is no legal requirement for recognition where a pregnancy loss is before 20 weeks. Every other state and territory has provided formal recognition through early pregnancy loss commemorative certificates. Victoria was the most recent, in 2020.

I was horrified when I learned that the ACT had not made this recognition available, that we are the last jurisdiction to do so. On becoming the minister responsible for birth policy, at my very first meeting with directorates I advised that this was a priority to be addressed as soon as possible. There has been a significant amount of work in the past 11 months, and I thank the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and Access Canberra for their very hard work on this.

I signalled this in the most recent estimates hearing, and I can advise today that, to help families in the grieving process, from 15 October formal acknowledgement of early pregnancy loss will be available for ACT residents in the form of an early pregnancy loss commemorative certificate. The certificate will provide a tangible recognition of this loss and I hope it will offer some support and some comfort for parents. The certificates will be available retrospectively and for free. People will be able to apply at any time. Any parent who has experienced early pregnancy loss in the


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