Support for birth certificate reforms

PARKES Federal MP Mark Coulton supports creating a scheme as one way of funding standard birth certificates for the nearly three in 10 Australian children born each year without one - but isn't sure whether it should be taken out of the government's Baby Bonus.

Mr Coulton has supported a campaign out of Independent MP Tony Windsor's New England electorate calling for reforms to both the state and federal government's two-pronged birth certificate application system.

A delegation, which last week met with federal Attorney-general Mark Dreyfus and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, claims the estimated 30 per cent of Indigenous and 20 per cent of non-Indigenous babies born each year without a valid birth certificate was far too high.

They've called for the government to look at a series of recommendations, including a free, streamlined initiative funded through the federal government's current Baby Bonus scheme.

The group has also recommended linking newborn birth registrations and certificate applications through the Department of Health and National Immunization Program.

Mr Coulton agreed the figures showed displacement among newborns was too high, but believes a national approach to the problem needs further addressing.

The MP said while there was evidence to support a change in system, he did not readily condone pulling funds out of the Baby Bonus scheme to finance it.

"Documentation is an issue, and I know from time-to-time my office has been called on to help get this type of paper work in order," Mr Coulton said.

"Not having a birth certificate puts people at a real disadvantage. Firstly they are masked from any sort of statistical information - because there is no record of them.

"How it could be funded needs to be looked at."

There were also calls for hospitals to have a greater roles in finalising certificate applications before mothers and infants were discharged. However, a Health Department spokeswoman said the onus was still on parents to ensure their child's formal details were lodged.

New England Federal MP Tony Windsor hoped a scheme would be in place by June.

"Many Australians don't have a birth certificate, which prevents them from doing everyday things such as enrolling in school, opening a bank account or getting a license," he said.

However, you don't need a birth certificate to register for Centrelink benefits or Medicare.


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