CANBERRA, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The rate of stillbirths in Australia has been stagnant for more than 20 years, a landmark parliamentary report said.
The Senate committee, which was largely made up of Members of Parliament (MPs) who have been affected by stillbirth, on Tuesday night delivered its report. It found that the stillbirth rate among indigenous mothers is twice as high as that among non-indigenous mothers.
According to the report, unlike comparable countries, Australia's stillbirth rate has not fallen for more than 20 years, remaining consistent at 7.4 per 1,000 births, affecting approximately 2,30 families every year.
Senators heard accounts of women who had lost their jobs while recovering from the trauma of a stillborn baby. Other women were told they were not entitled to paid parental leave because their baby had not survived.
"I grew angry doing this work," Kristina Keneally, whose daughter Caroline was stillborn in 1999, told the Senate on Tuesday night.
"My anger came from frustration, because there are simple steps to take to prevent stillbirth. The anger I felt was just grief, that babies had died in this country when we could have saved them," Kristina said.
The report included the first set of national recommendations for improving education and research around stillbirth. It called for the establishment of a National Stillbirth Action Plan, which would aim to reduce the stillbirth rate by 20 percent in three years.
The committee received 268 submissions and held six public hearings across Australia during its eight-month inquiry.
"This inquiry was perhaps the most difficult I've been on," indigenous Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said.
"We are carrying deeply the very real stories that impact Australians in this country," the Senator said.
"We can make a difference with this report," the Senator added.