Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Herald Sun today
HOME births would be driven underground by new maternity laws, a Senate committee has admitted.

The community affairs committee said that without special insurance, midwives would be unable to legally practice. ...

Geelong Advertiser

Fight for right to homebirth

Nick Wade
August 18th, 2009

MELISSA McFarlane is devastated expectant mothers could soon be denied the right to the intimate and private homebirths she received. ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Midwife laws may force homebirths underground

Mark Metherell and Kate Benson
August 18, 2009

A SENATE committee has acknowledged that proposed legislation for midwives may ''drive homebirths underground''. ...

Medical Observer

Midwife indemnity plan may spark GP obstetrician exodus

Andrew Bracey - Friday, 14 August 2009

GP obstetricians could ‘down tools’ as a result of Federal Government plans to allow midwives to practise independently with subsidised indemnity insurance.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) has warned the move could drive up doctors’ insurance premiums and force them to quit practice.

“Obstetricians may be called in too late to manage an obstetric emergency and have to face the blame for a poor outcome, when an earlier referral may have averted a crisis,” the college said.

“[If] premiums rise, that could be a considerable driver for doctors [to exit] the obstetric workforce, and we are already on... a knife edge with workforce,” RANZCOG president Dr Ted Weaver said.

The college warning comes as three pieces of legislation were introduced to Federal Parliament that would expand MBS and PBS rights for midwives and nurse practitioners, and provide the former with federally subsidised indemnity cover.

In submissions to a Senate inquiry into the legislation, doctor groups have called for clearer detail on the proposed collaborative models of care, amid fears the legislation will lead to fragmented and lower standards of care (MO, 31 July).

The Federal Health Department has indicated midwives would pay around $7500 annually for a policy. GP obstetricians, on average, pay more than $10,000 for cover, while obstetricians pay close to $50,000.

AMA president Dr Andrew Pesce told MO that the tendering process now underway to find an insurer for midwives was premature, given the lack of detail regarding the necessary collaborative care models.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Nicola Roxon said MBS and PBS rights would only be eligible to midwives involved in collaborative arrangements with appropriate referral pathways.

“Under these circumstances, there is no basis to assume that there would be upward pressure on premiums for obstetricians,” the spokesperson said.


“Senate Inquiry”- committee supports homebirth but legislates it out of existence.

Six Senators, three parties and nearly 2000 members of the public expressed their support for women’s right to choice in birth care, in today’s Senate Committee Report.

The Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee today reported on their inquiry into the “Medicare for midwives” Bills, currently before Commonwealth Parliament. Although the Report is divided into majority, minority and dissenting reports, all reports recognise the benefits to women from granting Medicare for midwifery services, and the need for women to have access to homebirth care with a registered midwife.

“The clear message from this Senate Committee Report is that an insurance solution must be found to allow ongoing access to homebirth as a safe choice for Australian women”, said Lisa Metcalfe, President of birth consumer group Maternity Coalition. “The Government Senators majority report fails to provide a solution in their recommendations.”

“In the 1,915 public submissions to the inquiry Australian women are saying that they will continue to make independent choices about their births, but they will not be afforded the basic right to access a registered midwife for birth at home if the Midwifery Bills are passed as they stand.” said Ms Metcalfe

“Maternity Coalition is appalled that in less that 12 months from now, the only choice for women birthing at home will be to use an un-registered carer. Where is the safety or sense in that?” said Ms Metcalfe

“The Senators join Australia’s midwifery and nursing organisations, consumer groups, and international experts in recognising midwives as skilled caregivers, and homebirth as a legitimate choice. The responsibility is now squarely back on Minister Roxon’s shoulders to deliver a comprehensive insurance solution before July 2010 which allows every woman to have every choice in their birth care”, said Ms Metcalfe.

The full report is available from:


Maternity Coalition’s fact sheet on the current threat to homebirth is at:

Media contacts:

Maternity Coalition National President Lisa Metcalfe, Phone: 02 4268 1675 or 0437 577 576

Australia’s national maternity consumer advocacy organisation

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