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Baby safe havens needed

Safe haven: A nurse demonstrates Japan’s first “baby hatch”, where parents can drop off unwanted infants anonymously. Advocates want the system introduced in Australia. Photo: AAP/AFP/JIJI Press

Safe haven: A nurse demonstrates Japan’s first “baby hatch”, where parents can drop off unwanted infants anonymously. Advocates want the system introduced in Australia. Photo: AAP/AFP/JIJI Press

By Paul Dobbyn

CHERISH Life Queensland president Teresa Martin is baffled why governments around Australia aren’t using a cheap and simple solution to the ongoing tragedy of babies being abandoned.

“Last November alone we had two such cases – one at Sydney’s Quakers Hill where a baby boy was rescued from a drain there, and the other where a deceased baby was found by children playing at Maroubra Beach in Sydney,” she said.

“And these most recent cases would represent a mere fraction of baby abandonment incidents of which authorities are aware.

“Baby hatches and safe havens, as used in other countries, can avoid tragedies such as those we’ve seen in past months where children have been abandoned.”

Baby safe havens are established in the United States, Canada, Africa, Japan, China, South Korea, Germany, Italy and other European countries.

Ms Martin said little would need to be done to implement baby safe havens in Australia.

“Hospitals, police, fire and ambulance services are all 24 hours a day,” she said.

“All that’s needed is to cut a hole in the wall of these services and have a warmed container on the other side.

“The mother puts the baby in the hatch and presses a buzzer.

“The mother then leaves and a member of the service alerted collects the baby.”

Ms Martin said the provision of a safe place would enable the mother to legally abandon her child.

“It’s beyond me why governments are not acting more quickly on this,” she said.

Labor Senator from Tasmania Helen Polley has been advocating for baby safe havens for many years.

She recently mounted a petition to once again bring the issue to government attention through her Facebook page Baby Safe Havens Australia.

“For too long state and territory leaders in Australia have failed to implement a public policy response to the issue of baby abandonment,” she said.

Ms Martin paid tribute to those mothers who chose to have their babies rather than aborting them.

“These women are often terrified beyond belief but they are brave enough to birth their baby,” she said.

“It’s important that facilities are available where new-born babies can be left in safety if their mothers feel incapable of caring for them.”

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