Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 27, 2023


Kangaroo Island Country Cabinet

The Hon. C. BONAROS (15:12): Shall I just ask the birthing services question? Actually, you know what, stuff it, let's do that one instead today. I don't have the minister here.


The Hon. C. BONAROS: Sorry; I am going to seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries a question about country cabinet in KI recently.

Leave granted.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: During her contributions earlier today, and indeed during the Attorney's contributions earlier today, we heard about the importance of birthing services and the additional funding for health at KI and the KI hospital. Given this was a country cabinet get-together, and in light of those additional funding arrangements, did the government get around to talking about the critical shortage of midwives and the forced closure of Whyalla's birthing services and how forgotten the people of Whyalla are feeling, by contrast to the people of Kangaroo Island, and, if so, what is the government planning to do and how urgently?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:13): I thank the honourable member for her question. In answer to the first part, I certainly wasn't involved in any discussions on Kangaroo Island about the Whyalla birthing services.

In answer to the second part, I do have information from the Minister for Health as follows: due to a critical midwifery workforce shortage, women due to give birth at Whyalla Hospital and Health Service will temporarily be required to deliver at other locations from Monday 26 June 2023. This decision was made to ensure that women are able to deliver their babies in the safest way possible. I am sure we would all agree that safety has got to come first. We, the government, are currently working on recruiting qualified staff with the aim of reinstating birthing services as soon as possible. I think everyone would be aware in this place how difficult it is, with the shortage of midwives and other birthing staff. It is an issue that is faced across regional Australia, not just regional South Australia, so it is something we continue to work on.

I am advised that SA Health is currently working with each woman who is due to give birth imminently, supporting them to develop a personalised plan and arrange their birth at an appropriate alternative location. Antenatal and postnatal care will continue to be provided at Whyalla hospital, and medical staff will remain available to respond to maternal emergencies. Women in Whyalla who believe they may be in labour, even if it is the early stages, are encouraged to attend the Whyalla Hospital and Health Service as soon as possible. Anyone who has concerns or questions can also contact the Whyalla hospital directly.