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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2993 ..


had at the end of the process. They will leave hospital with empty arms and endure the unendurable because there is no other choice for them.

I cannot stress how far we have come in acknowledging stillbirth. In the hospital, Bec, our terrific obstetrician, and the midwives took such good care of us, compared to what happened to my mother. Although it was immeasurably hard for us at the time, we were able to hold Connor, spend time with him, have a funeral for him, and he has a grave at Gungahlin Cemetery, where we can grieve together as a family. Despite having come so far, we still have so far to go. It is still so fricking hard. As I wrote this speech, nine years on, the tears came streaming down my face. The feelings came flooding back.

As bereaved parents, Deb and I have accessed important supports, some of which have been mentioned, and others that I will add. They included Red Nose, Bears of Hope, Heartfelt, Perinatal Wellbeing Centre, and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Australia, plus others—too many others to mention. I commend them to other bereaved parents.

Red Nose in Canberra helped us while our grief was still so raw, connecting us to another bereaved parent—someone who knew the pain all too well. Bears of Hope welcomed us with open arms into a community for which no-one wants to pay the price of entry. You would not think that a teddy bear was a useful gift at such a time, but I can tell you that when you leave a hospital with empty arms, it is a small but important contribution.

I would like to call out Hilary Wardhaugh, a professional photographer who volunteers for Heartfelt. She captured Connor’s very last moments before we buried him. As difficult as it was at the time, we are glad to have those photos years on. I would also like to call out the Canberra Bereaved Dads Fireside Group, who meet on the first Friday of each month to spend a few hours by a fire with other dads who have lost a child, to cook over the fire, and to have a cuppa and a conversation.

We have come so far, yet still have so far to go. We need to break down the silence that surrounds pregnancy and infancy loss, to normalise it, to state that these children lived and had an impact on our world. My wife showed great courage and determination to be open and honest about our story at a time when all I wanted to do was to turn inward and grieve silently. Let it be said and recorded in Hansard: she was absolutely correct.

Despite our own personal pain, Deb and I have worked hard to honour our losses, break the stigma, raise funds and improve the situation for our fellow bereaved parents. Our efforts, however, pale in comparison to those of our good friend Bon Carter, as others have mentioned today. Bon and her husband, Steve, have worked tirelessly, even during their grief after multiple losses, to advocate for bereaved parents and to light up important sites around Canberra to commemorate this date.

Everyone does this work to help other bereaved parents and their families, and to acknowledge the existence of so many babies. Importantly, we do this work to break the stigma about a topic that so many will not talk about, even now, in 2021, so that


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