Mums in class ac­tion threat

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - JACKIE SINNERTON

A TASK­FORCE charged with in­ves­ti­gat­ing the state’s ru­ral birthing cri­sis will not com­mit to vis­it­ing Theodore, one of the worst-af­fected towns, leav­ing fu­ri­ous res­i­dents con­sid­er­ing a class ac­tion against the State Gov­ern­ment.

The Sun­day Mail un­der­stands the Health Min­is­ter’s depart­ment has failed to com­mit to the com­mu­nity’s re­quest to hold a Ru­ral Ma­ter­nity Task­force sum­mit in the Cen­tral Queens­land town.

In­stead, Health Min­is­ter Steven Miles has rolled out an on­line sur­vey urg­ing peo­ple to have their say about ru­ral ma­ter­nity ser­vices over the hol­i­day sea­son.

“Will women in re­mote ar­eas even know this sur­vey is hap­pen­ing?” said Brian Hanna, from the Friends of Theodore Ma­ter­nity Ser­vices lobby group.

Frus­trated res­i­dents con­tinue to bat­tle to have their “ready to go”, state-of-the-art ma­ter­nity unit re­opened and say they have faced noth­ing but road­blocks. They are con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion.

The task­force was set up by Mr Miles fol­low­ing a spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion by The Sun­day Mail high­light­ing the risks to ba­bies and moth­ers in towns where ma­ter­nity units have closed.

The task­force is de­signed to “gain an un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues, con­cerns, and ex­pec­ta­tions in those com­mu­ni­ties”.

Mr Miles’ of­fice said the lo­ca­tions for con­sul­ta­tions, in­clud­ing the stake­holder sum­mit, were up to the task­force. “Fo­cus groups will be held at three ru­ral and re­mote lo­ca­tions in Fe­bru­ary,’’ he said.

“Th­ese lo­ca­tions will be de­cided by the Task­force.

“I en­cour­age mem­bers of the Theodore com­mu­nity to take part in the on­line sur­vey.’’

Mr Hanna said the next step was look­ing at le­gal op­tions.

“We won’t take no for an an­swer... so the next move is to take the le­gal path by gath­er­ing to­gether women who have had their ba­sic hu­man rights taken away by birthing on a high­way, or hav­ing to travel over a thou­sand kilo­me­tres to have a baby,’’ he said.

“Many have seen more than 20 providers dur­ing their preg­nancy, ad­ding to their feel­ing of iso­la­tion and de­pres­sion. Enough is enough.’’

Close to 40 ma­ter­nity units have closed in the state over a few decades.

Feed­back from the sur­vey, which closes on Fe­bru­ary 18, will be discussed at a sum­mit next year. De­tails at clin­i­calex­cel­lence. qld. gov. au/ pri­or­it­yar­eas/ pa­tient- ex­pe­ri­ence/ ru­ral-ma­ter­nity-task­force.

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