Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Roxon reappointed as Health Minister

There has been a collective sigh of dismay as midwives and advocates for basic human rights in maternity care note the renewal of Nicola Roxon's portfolio as the Minister for Health (and Ageing).

Minister Roxon swallowed the guidance of the AMA (Australian Medical Association) and refused to listen to women and midwives. Remember girls, doctor knows best.

Prime Minister Gillard promised a new era in health before the Rudd government was elected, and she became his deputy.

These very women have sold out women's basic human rights, in a mad rush to reform health, by further restricting access of women to private midwifery, and barring midwives who attend women in their homes from any semblance of acceptance in the health system or professional recognition.  We (midwives) are experiencing unprecedented threat to our very right to exist.

During the years of the previous (Rudd) Labor government we were informed that Labor had a mandate to reform maternity care.

This (Gillard) government has now been put on notice. They got in by a whisker, and while under Rudd they trumpeted their mandate to reform health, there is no mandate for anything now.

Everyone with an interest in birth needs to increase the pressure on Roxon and Gillard, and keep private midwifery and the related theme of women’s rights in the public eye. If as has been forecast this government does not run its full term, voters will be given another opportunity to voice their disgust at the bureaucratic heavy-handedness that has been dished out since the government commenced its efforts to reform maternity services.

The statement by the four independent women who stood for seats in marginal electorates, ‘Gillard Government signs away women’s rights’ still applies.

Minister Roxon, her advisors and bureaucrats, and the AMA, reckon it’s in the public interest to wipe out private midwifery as we know it today. Women cannot be allowed to decide where or how or with whom they should give birth.  The midwife's private practice that focuses on promoting physiological birth, and working in harmony with natural processes, is under increasing threat. 

A new professional pathway is being opened by our government for the private midwife: who works with [and supervised by] an obstetrician, within the private health sector, with the client being able to access partial recovery of costs via Medicare.  This 'midwife' will be no more than the obstetrician's handmaiden.  The legislative changes introduced quietly as 'National Helath (Collaborative arrangements for midwives) Determination 2010' have quashed any hope that independent midwives may have had of accessing Medicare rebates for some of their services.

From the Independent candidates' statement:
“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 Doctors 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."

1 comment:

Joy Johnston said...

Comment from an anonymous stakeholder:
"the reform agenda has gone out the window with the rainbow members representing/providing Gillard the power to govern.
"There is a desperate need for pressure to be maintained. Regional areas start speaking up about issues."