Greens welcome home birth trial, more work needed


The ACT Greens today welcomed the interim evaluation of the ACT’s first home birth trial, while urging the Government to expand the scheme to ensure that more women can birth at home.

“It’s fantastic to see that, after years of Greens advocacy, a trial of the ACT’s first home birth program has seen 17 healthy babies brought into the world,” ACT Greens Womens spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.

“It’s clear that in uncomplicated pregnancies, home birth is a safe and healthy option for women.

“The Greens have been long-term supporters of publicly funded home birthing programs. This issue has a long history in the ACT, as the previous public home birth program available through the Canberra Midwifery Australia was closed around 2 decades ago. The ACT Greens have also been raising this issue with respective ACT Health Ministers over many years. We included the reintroduction of home birthing as an item in the 2008 Parliamentary Agreement.”

In March, the Greens called for improvements to the ACT’s home birthing scheme.

Trial evaluation welcomed, yet improvements to the scheme still needed

“While we welcome the evaluation of this first trial, the Greens remain concerned that the current home birthing program is too restrictive,” Ms Le Couteur said today.

“The current program does not allow healthy first-time mothers who have had no complications to even enrol, let alone mothers who live more than 15 minutes one way from the hospital catchment.

“With no advertising it is no surprise that many Canberra women are simply not aware that the home birthing option even exists.

“The Greens would also like to see the eligibility criteria relaxed to allow for more healthy mothers to birth at home – better supporting mothers and families as well as reducing unnecessary pressure on our hospitals.”

The interim evaluation report, released today, finds that:

  • Of the six women who experienced unplanned events, or who required additional care post birth, none resulted in long term poor outcomes for the mother or baby.
  • Some areas for improvement were identified, with these mostly relating to documentation, processes, data integrity, risk management and reporting. A number of recommendations have been made with an aim to improve processes, clarify reporting requirements, improve data integrity, assist program planning, and ultimately improve overall safety and quality of the service.