Friday, August 20, 2010

Independent's Preferences may determine Corangamite

Protesters outside Nicola Roxon's office
Media Release

Friday August 20 2010

Contact: Sally-Anne Brown 0438 708 693

Independent's Preferences may determine Corangamite

Independent candidate for Corangamite Sally-Anne Brown has today announced she has not directed preferences to one major party over the other following the collapse of negotiations with both parties.

Neither party would commit to ensure the currently tabled 'collaboration determination' for women to be eligible for medicare funding with a private midwife be disallowed, to ensure a woman's right to informed consent be drafted into a new document. “ It is incredible that both major parties are prepared to risk loosing their bid for Corangamite, rather than revamp a document which costs them nothing”, said Ms Brown, adding “the major parties have once again bowed to the nation's most powerful union lobby, The Australian Medical Association” at the expense of birthing women across the nation”, she added.

As late as Tuesday night both parties were making calls to the Independent candidate requesting her preferences. “This is a clear indication both Liberal and Labor know the seat of Corangamite currently held by 0.9 % will come down to the wire”, said Ms Brown, adding “I was crystal clear that if I had a commitment in writing to uphold a woman's right to informed consent then I would deliver my preferences. Instead the major parties have sold women's rights down the river”, she said. Ms Brown is unimpressed that Australia's first female PM Julia Gillard and Health Minister Nicola Roxon, both members of Emily's list which advocate strongly to uphold women's rights are supporting the position.

Ms Brown a nurse and midwife of 28 years declared her candidacy for the seat of Corangamite following a twenty year policy platform by both parties to force women to travel to cities to birth. “Since the early 90’s over 70% of maternity units have closed in remote and rural Australia including the Apollo Bay and Lorne maternity units, forcing women to travel hundreds of kilometres to birth”, said Ms Brown, adding “our maternity system currently the highest volume of health beds at over 300,000 per annum is a lucrative business and a broken mess”, she added.

Due to mandated insurance requirements effective July 1 – eleven of the thirteen private midwives that serviced the 8,000 sq kms of Corangamite have had to cease their practice due to exorbitant insurance premiums and the move by medicos to veto a woman's right to make informed decisions about her maternity care. “To bypass a woman's right to consent in any aspect of her care constitutes a breach of ethical, legal and professional requirements of practice that must be adhered to by all health professionals, regardless of public or private practice”, she added.

Ms Brown is campaigning primarily on maternity services reform and on a strong social, environmental and health policy platform.

Ø Bring Births Back to Local Communities

Ø Zero Emissions by 2020 & a price on Carbon

Ø Housing affordability

Ø Improved roads & public transport

Authorised by Sally-Anne Brown, 3 Scott Place Apollo Bay, Victoria 3233

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who's the REAL health minister?


Wednesday 11 August 2010

Independents in Key Marginal Seats Join Forces and Ask:

Will the Real Health Minister Stand Up at Today’s National Press Club Address
Across health there are hundreds of community groups advocating for improvements in health. For four women across 3 states the lack of any real action in maternity reform has led them to stand as independent candidates.

Michelle Meares, Amy Bell, Sally-Anne Brown and Rebecca Jenkinson are standing in the seats of Robertson, Macquarie, Corangamite and Dickson respectively. These seats are ultra marginal and these women are united by a common passion to improve maternity care for Australian women rather than seeing health services dominated by the self interest of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Maternity reform was the first cab of the rank in Rudd’s health reform plan. Nicola Roxon announced funding midwives through Medicare for the first time. “This legislation had the capacity to greatly improve care for women across the country and was initially well received.” says Rebecca Jenkinson, teacher, mother of 2 children and independent candidate for Dickson.

Whilst consultation with a range of stakeholders has occurred it has been clear to those participating that the medical lobby has controlled the decisions within the reforms. “Nicola Roxon has put the self interest of the doctors union above the needs of Australian families as they continue to suffer, especially in rural and remote areas.” said Sally-Anne Brown a nurse and midwife from rural Victoria, running in the electorate of Corangamite.

“In the last month we have come to the conclusion that Nicola Roxon is not really Australia’s Health Minister and Peter Dutton is not the shadow minister. The real minister is Dr Andrew Pesce, President of the Australian Medical Association.” said Michelle Meares, IT consultant and mother on NSW’s Central Coast. “Despite unprecedented support from the women of Australia for maternity reform, Minister Roxon turned her back on them caving to pressure from the AMA that has resulted in legislation being snuck through, signed off by the Governor General the day before the election was called.”

The Determination ( National Health Collaborative arrangements for midwives Determination 2010) passed on the election eve requires medical sign off or agreement before women can receive a Medicare payment for private midwifery care. This legislation gives doctors the power of veto not only over the practice of midwives but also the choices pregnant women make.

“This move looks likely to contravene Australia’s commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). How can the women of the ALP introduce legislation that prevents a woman from making decisions about her own body, giving veto to medical practitioners” said Sally-Anne Brown. Amy Bell, mother and nurse from the Blue Mountains region adds “Women have asked us to step up and represent the voices of women on this issue and they are standing behind us all the way.”

Rebecca Jenkinson is also dismayed that Shadow Health Minister, Peter Dutton has also refused to take a stand on this issue. “As a member of his electorate I am aware of the women that have met with and written to Peter Dutton. We are yet to see any positive protection from the coalition for the rights of women to make decisions. We can only assume that Minister’s Roxon and Dutton believe the AMA has more currency than Australian families”

All candidates report great support on the ground. For too long maternity care has been thought of as a ‘soft issue’. One only needs to see the catastrophic effects of postnatal depression, family breakdown and child abuse to know that how we support new families, especially mothers matters greatly. Amy Bell adds “Maternal suicide is the leading cause of death in the first year after birth – we have to look at more positive ways to support women.”

These candidates join together to ask when will Nicola Roxon and Peter Dutton (who are speaking together today at the National Press Club) be honest enough to announce that the AMA is the real driver of health policy in Australia.

Contact: Rebecca Jenkinson 0439 765 633
Michelle Meares 0439 645 372
Sally-Anne Brown 0438 708 693
Amy Bell 0432 928 014

Authorised by Sally-Anne Brown, 3 Scott Place Apollo Bay Victoria 3233

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gillard Government signs away Women’s Rights

Sally-Anne Brown leads a rally outside Health Minister Roxon's office
A political statement on behalf of four women standing for election as Independents

August 3, 2010

FOLLOWING the Government’s backwards changes to national midwifery regulations, thousands of Australian women are voicing their concern.

Their urgent voices have just over a month to address draconian amendments to proposed new laws.

Collectively, thousands of voices have culminated in four women running as independent members in critical marginal seats in an attempt to talk to Australia’s law makers.

These four independents will stand in the marginal federal seats of Robertson on the NSW Central Coast, Corangamite in southern Victoria, Macquarie in the Blue Mountains, NSW, and Dickson in northern Brisbane, Queensland.

“We had no choice but to stand for Parliament. We are standing as Independents to represent the voices of thousands of women around Australia. These women are angry about the effect the Gillard Government’s new maternity laws will have on their birth choices,” Robertson candidate Michelle Meares said.

“The day before the Federal election was announced there were changes made to existing midwifery legislation. Defined as "collaborative arrangements", the changes, in essence, give doctors a veto over women's choices.

“Basically, the changes detail that any midwife whose patient wants to claim through Medicare must get permission from a Doctor for the decisions made during the pregnancy and birth.”

“These new laws give Doctor’s veto rights over women’s birth choices.”

“It is unlikely that Doctors will agree to collaborate with private midwives, with some receiving advice from their insurer that collaborating would void their insurance.”

“This is unworkable. It will not allow women to be able to afford midwives for
home births.”

After the election, once the caretaker Government steps aside and the Senate resumes sitting, there will a two-week window in which the changes can be disallowed.

“When the senate resumes we have two weeks in which to change the “collaborative arrangement” the Government wants to impose.

A similar situation developed in the US state of New York. But the law was found to be unworkable. It was repealed when the Midwifery Modernization Act was passed in July.

Each of the four candidates disagrees with the recently passed legislation forcing midwives into "collaborative arrangements" with doctors. Specifically they are pushing for:
• A guarantee that the medical veto over women's choices will be removed
• A commitment that women's rights to informed consent (including the right of refusal) will be expressly recognised in all codes, guidelines and frameworks relating to midwifery practice
• Ensure that privately practising midwives have visiting rights in hospitals across the country
• A commitment to funding and insurance for homebirth to ensure equity for all Australian women

Men do not give birth and should not be allowed to push women into this position.

The four candidates:
Robertson – web producer/consumer advocate Michelle Meares
Phone: 0439 645 372

Corangamite –midwife Sally Anne Brown
Phone: 0438 708 693

Macquarie – nurse Amy Bell
Phone: 0432 928 014

Dickson – teacher Rebecca Jenkinson.
Phone: 0439 765 633

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New information on professional indemnity insurance for midwives

The scanned page here is from a Draft Summary of Professional Indemnity Insurance for Midwives, developed by the  NMBA.  This flow chart outlines the process for midwives to comply with the professional indemnity insurance (PII) requirements of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme which has been in effect since 1 July this year.

When I have found a link to the document at the NMBA website I will add that to this post.

As has been clearly stated for all to read, in this and other blogs and professional websites, midwives have sought to protect our right to practise midwifery as it has been defined internationally by the ICM - see Definition of a midwife. This ICM Definition is foundational to all Australian midwifery codes and courses of study. It is not something that can be ignored by legislators or regulators.

According to this flow chart, there are three options for private midwifery practice.

1. ONLY PROVIDING HOMEBIRTH intrapartum midwifery services with no antenatal or postnatal care. --- Midwife does not require PII.

2. and 3. Midwife intends to provide private antenatal, intrapatum care in hospital setting &/or postnatal care. --- Midwife must purchase PII.

#2 Midwife provides private midwifery services for pre and postnatal care without any access to Medicare, and purchases appropriate PII.

#3 Midwife provides private midwifery services for pre, intra, and postnatal care, and has the notation by the NMBA as a midwife who is eligible for Medicare. The midwife purchases PII from the Australian Government-supported authorised insurance provider.

Option #1 is unreasonable - UNPROFESSIONAL!
There is no point in calling ourselves midwives if we cannot practise midwifery. It's outrageous to be forced into being in the position, as this flow chart indicates, of "Only providing homebirth intrapartum midwifery services with no antenatal or postnatal care." What sort of midwife would take professional responsibility for homebirth without also providing prenatal and postnatal services? How is it that a body charged with regulation of midwifery in this country should consider a statement like that reasonable, that it should appear in a draft flow chart under the NMBA letterhead?

This is madness, as the regulators try to squeeze a square peg (NRAS) into a round hole (midwifery). The requirement for PII, with the 2-year exemption for homebirth, was never a workable arrangement.

The midwife is 'with woman' - not 'with homebirth'! In normal, physiological labour the woman and her midwife agree on the best place for birth as progress and other events at the time are taken into account.