Australia

Aus stillbirth rate brings Senate to tears

Senator Kristina Keneally's list of names of stillborn children ended with her own daughter (file). (AAP)

An emotional tabling of a report into Australia's stillbirths has moved Senator Kristina Keneally to tears.

The heartbreaking stories of the added tragedies heaped on parents who lose a child in stillbirth have been revealed by a Senate inquiry.

The parliamentary report included a set of recommendations to help improve the rate of stillbirths in Australia - a rate that has not changed in two decades.

The tabling of the report in the Senate moved Labor senator Kristina Keneally to tears as she read out the names of every lost child whose parents shared their story with the inquiry, ending with that of her own child Caroline.

"They are lost to your families and to all of us, but this report is a part of their legacy," she said.

"The anger I felt wasn't directed at anything other than just grief, that babies had died in this country when we could have saved them."

Six babies are stillborn every day across the country, with one in every 137 women who reach 20 weeks' pregnancy experiencing a stillbirth, the report found.

In the 268 submissions, the committee heard of further injustices heaped on families who suffered these losses.

The stories included one from a woman who was made redundant while on leave recovering from the grief and physical toll her stillbirth had taken.

The inquiry also heard "disturbing evidence" of six stillborn babies whose bodies had remained unclaimed in the Katherine Hospital Morgue for a number of years.

Liberal senator Jim Molan also spoke as the report was tabled. His daughter Sarah delivered a stillborn baby in 2007.

"The recommendations in this report will spare many Australian parents from the unimaginable grief of your baby going to the hospital mortuary, instead of the nursery," he said.

The report's recommendations include increasing research and investigation on how to prevent stillbirths and support for those families facing loss.

It also recommends that governments assess current employment laws to ensure paid parental leave is available to all families who've experienced stillbirth.

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