The following is the text of a letter, dated May 17, 2016, from Jillian Skinner, New South Wales Minister of Health, to Senator Helen Polley, in response to a request to consider introducing baby boxes and safe haven laws in New South Wales, Australia.
Dear Senator Polley
Thank you for your correspondence to the Hon Mike Baird MP, Premier ol NSW concerning the issue of baby safe havens placed on the Council of Australian Governments agenda. As this matter falls within my portfolio responsibilities as Minister for Health your correspondence was forwarded for my consideration.
I note in your correspondence that in support of your views, you also refer to the NSW Deputy State Coroner’s recommendations at the recent inquest into the death of “Lily Grace”, whose body was found at Maroubra Beach in late 2014. This is a tragic case and I understand the community’s concerns following the discovery of baby Lily in those circumstances.
There has been considerable discussion and consideration of baby boxes and safe haven laws by experts working in maternal, child and family health care and other government departments with responsibilities in this area.
Following careful consideration of expert advice and a review of available literature, the NSW Government is not supportive of introducing baby boxes or safe haven laws. I am advised that there is no clear evidence that baby boxes are effective in stopping baby abandonment and infanticide. Similarly, safe haven laws have been criticised for increasing the potential for women to conceal their pregnancies and consequently not seek access to health care.
The NSW Government employs a preventative approach to baby abandonment, including using universal, secondary and specialist responses such as family planning, maternal and child health services, early parenting services and perinatal services. NSW also participates in the child protection national framework, Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, aimed at ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children.
Thank you again for raising this matter with the NSW Government. Should you require any further information, please contact Ms Deborah Beasley. Acting Director, Maternal, Child and Family Health, Office of Kids and Families, NSW Ministry of Health on 9424 5828 or at email@example.com.
Jillian Skinner MP