Stillborn babies to be included in census figures for the first time

The most recent available data shows more than 27,000 babies were born in NSW hospitals in 2014.
The most recent available data shows more than 27,000 babies were born in NSW hospitals in 2014. Photo: Miho Aikawa

Stillborn babies will be included in the nation's Census figures for the first time next month.

The August 9 census will no longer have the instruction that women "include live births only" when recording the number of children they have given birth to.

The move was welcome by patron of the Stillbirth Foundation Australia Kristina Keneally who told the ABC she felt "angry" at not being able to acknowledge daughter Caroline in previous census figures. 

She said the move is a reflection of a change in community standards in relation to recognising the existence of babies who did not survive birth.

"Every year when I fill out that census I've been a bit rankled and a bit angry because the instruction says how many births have you had ... it's always stipulated live births," she told 702 ABC Sydney.

"There's a growing awareness in the community that children who are born still, who are not born alive, are nonetheless children."

"They are part of the family, they are given names, they are buried, they are honoured."

Mrs Keneally's daughter was stillborn in 2000. She and husband Ben also have two sons Daniel and Brendan.

The change to the birth question in this year's census comes after complaints from parents across the country.

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At the time of the 2011 census, Canberra mum Ashley McBride said it was important to recognise the number of stillbirths across the country each year.

"The Census flyer says everyone counts and that the information helps to shape our community and future needs such as hospitals," Mrs McBride told the Canberra Times.

"That being the case, the ABS needs to be confronted with the number of stillbirths in Australia every year.

"I occupied a bed at the Canberra Hospital for three days when I gave birth. This recognition would allow for greater funding for hospitals, including research and support services for bereaved families".