Controversial midwives laws pass Senate

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Midwives will be able to provide Medicare-funded care for the first time under a dramatic but controversial reform passed by parliament.

... homebirthing advocates were still venting their fury at the laws they say strip expectant mums of basic rights.

Under the new laws, a national register will be set up for midwives, who will require indemnity insurance before being signed up - insurance hasn't been available to midwives since 2001.

The government has promised to provide support for indemnity insurance, and offered a two-year buffer for those having trouble finding a provider.

Insurance is not available for home birth, ie, the actual birth, but it will be available for pregnancy and postnatal care.

... The new regulatory framework includes a request for midwives to form a collaborative relationship with doctors, requiring their sign-off to access Medicare insurance and pharmaceutical benefits.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the laws were a vital reform, but also used the opportunity to criticise the coalition's long-standing opposition to the changes.

"Finally, finally, they have conceded that this is an important and historic occasion for ... midwives and will be welcomed," ...

... non-government senators were adamant their continued opposition had forced the government to improve what was flawed legislation.

... Homebirths Australia's Justine Caines said doctors were typically opposed to midwifery and midwives stood to be employed "to do (doctors') lackey work".

"Nicola Roxon is really trying to straddle the professional turf war here between doctors and midwives," ... "That's bitterly disappointing, rather than saying Australian women are the most important part of this equation.

... The Australian College of Midwives said the changes signalled a significant step forward, but called on the government to ensure midwives offering homebirths can also be insured ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448