It seems I've become quite the activist lately! For someone who's not very politically minded this is a break through!! It's all to do with the government's plan to make sure that registered midwives have public indemnity insurance. All good in theory but midwives who attend homebirths can not get public indemnity insurance which effectively means that once the new legislation is passed they will be practising illegally and will face a $30,000 fine or a jail term. Ridiculous, isn't it? It's not only taking away the rights of woman who homebirth and those that support them but it's taking away the rights of all women - we're going back to the dark ages when women had no rights! Because the homebirth community is a minority (approx 700 people a year in Australia homebirth) apparently we don't matter. The thing that really irks me is that a woman can still choose to have a c-section and have a highly interventionist birth that cost the tax-payer thousands of dollars, uses up resources in hospitals and no one even blinks an eye at that. In comparision, a homebirth costs relatively little and has been shown to have the best outcomes for mother and baby (when attended by a registered health professional) It was quite ironic that 3 days before this rally, Nicola Roxon decided to make an announcement that there would be a 'reprieve' on this legislation and it wouldn't come into effect until 2012 now. That decision doesn't really mean a lot and seems like a rather cowardly response. It just means our fight will be much more prolonged!!
Anyway, a huge rally was organised in front of Parliament house in Canberra on the 7th of September which I attended. It was an absolutely awesome day and it was such an inspiration to be surrounded by such strong women. I think there ended up being about 3000 people who attended and we came from all over the country. Izzy and I (and Esme ;) ) flew up to Canberra on Sunday night and stayed with Melanie and her daughter Rebecca at the hotel. We headed off to the rally in the morning to meet with our local MP, Jason Wood (member for Latrobe). It was great to chat to Jason about our concerns and so wonderful to find him supportive of our cause. I felt like he genuinely cared about our cause, he was interested in what we had to say and asked lots of questions. Turns out we were even the focus of his speech in parliament the next day! We're hoping to make it into the local newspapers too as Jason's office was going to do a press release.
The actual rally was awesome. We started off the rally at the Aboriginal tent embassy to receive an official welcome from the original land owners and then walked as a group up to the lawns in front of parliament house where the formal part of the rally began. So many people and so lovely to see so many pregnant bellies (you included, Izzy ;) ) and kids and babies. We had Tracy Bartram as MC who was great, she has also homebirthed and breastfed her son until he was 3.5 years old. We heard from various politicians (some good and some not so good ;) ) and Sarah Buckley. The official part was finished off by some songs about homebirth that people had written. 'Song to Nicola Roxon' was a huge hit lol. If I find a link to the 'official proceedings' I will add that in later. There were media there during the rally but disappointing to see that we didn't get much of a mention on the news. We watched channel 10 at the airport and there was absolutely nothing on there about the rally!!
The rally went for a couple of hours all up. Once it was over we headed off to find some lunch and thaw out in Melanie's car. I can't say the weather was ideal for this sort of thing (it poured with rain on and off throughout the rally) but it didn't put a dampener on the spirit of anyone attending the rally!
We will continue to fight for homebirth on our terms!!!
Photos to come...