Birth injuries bill celebrated – next step, full cover

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Parents who are injured while giving birth will be better supported by ACC, thanks to months of pressure from the Green Party, parents, community advocacy groups, academics, and medical experts.

“Thousands of birthing parents have to carry birth injuries in silence, often in shame, without treatment or support for years. Today, with the support of thousands of people across Aotearoa we have taken an important step towards changing that,” says Jan Logie, Green Party spokesperson for ACC.

“There are several important ways in which a Green Party with more MPs would have improved this bill, but today is a day to celebrate.

“Suffering a birth injury can be a lonely experience. As the Bill made its way through Parliament, we heard so many stories about the devastating impact birth injuries can have on a person’s work, home and social life.

“Birth injuries can leave some parents unable to pick up or play with their babies. It can leave others unable to go out, or enjoy sex. Imagine going through this, and not being able to connect to your baby in the ways you want to without any support. These experiences can have a huge impact on a person’s home, social, and work life.

“Previous Governments designed ACC in a way that has meant cover has been readily available for an ACL tear on the rugby field but near impossible to get for a perineal tear after giving birth – even more so for wāhine Māori. Today that changes.

“I would like to acknowledge all those who helped improve this law by sharing their birth experiences with us, including the 900 parents whose stories the Green Party gathered and passed directly to the Minister. Their bravery and honesty has helped ensure others receive the support they have so far missed out on.

“But there is still more work to do. The Minister for ACC, Carmel Sepuloni decided to stop short of covering all birth injuries, coverage for standalone mental trauma, coverage for babies injured during birth, and support for parents with existing injuries.

“It just doesn’t make sense to defend some of the existing barriers to ACC cover, when we know those barriers are deeply problematic and causing lots of harm. For starters, some parents can suffer severe mental trauma from giving birth – but unless they have a physical injury too, they will not be covered. This also goes against a Te Ao Māori worldview where there is no separation of the physical from the mental from the whānau.

“The Green Party will not stop until ACC provides all new parents the help they need, when they need it,” says Jan Logie.

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