Ali Hookham of Lismore, Tamlin Mackenzie of The Channon and Maree Parker of Ballina are petitioning to allow for publicly funded homebirths in the Northern Rivers.
Ali Hookham of Lismore, Tamlin Mackenzie of The Channon and Maree Parker of Ballina are petitioning to allow for publicly funded homebirths in the Northern Rivers. Jay Cronan

Mums seek homebirth funding

ALI Hookham of Lismore is due to give birth in five days.

The 28-year-old would prefer to give birth at home but like many North Coast mothers Ms Hookham cannot afford to hire a private midwife.

"Four thousand dollars for a home birth is not that attainable for most people," she said

Ms Hookham is one of more than 200 women who have signed a petition calling for a publicly-funded homebirth program on the North Coast.

The petition was started by members of the not-for-profit group Maternity Coalition and will be presented to the Northern NSW Local Health District and local MPs.

Maternity Coalition northern branch president Sally Cusack said the local health district established a consultative committee two years ago to investigate publicly funded homebirths.

"The community has been waiting, they know it needs to be done and we're keen to hear about their progress," she said.

But Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford denied they had been slow to respond to calls for publicly funded homebirths.

"We've had a committee reviewing the possibility of introducing publicly supported homebirths on the Far North Coast and I understand the committee has finished its report, but it hasn't reached me yet," Mr Crawford said.

He said publicly funding homebirths could invite litigation.

"We are always influenced by the fact that a particular proposal has community support but we have to be conscious of the safety of the mother, the safety of staff and potential liability issues," he said.



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