- An Australian couple who abandoned a baby boy born via a surrogacy arrangement in India misled High Commission staff in New Delhi and were repeatedly warned the baby could be left stateless, documents show.
- Improving education about immunisation is a better way to get people to vaccinate their children than threatening to withhold their welfare payments, experts say.
- Australia’s free breast screening program will be expanded for the first time to include women over the age of 70, with the Health Minister hinting a possible boost to screening for other cancers was also imminent.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 14th April 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
An Australian couple who abandoned a baby boy born via a surrogacy arrangement in India misled High Commission staff in New Delhi and were repeatedly warned the baby could be left stateless, documents show.
Freedom of Information (FOI) documents … reveal startling new information about the case, which saw the couple return to Australia with a baby girl while leaving her healthy twin brother behind, with the full knowledge of Australian Government officials.
The documents show Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) staff, as well as the Australian High Commission in India, knew the couple was from New South Wales, where it is illegal to engage in international surrogacy arrangements.
The highly redacted FOI documents shed more light on an Australian couple’s desperate bid to leave behind the twin boy.
Emails and cables between the Australian High Commission in New Delhi and Government officials in Canberra reveal the couple travelled to India late in 2012 to seek citizenship for a baby girl but told consular staff they would be leaving her twin brother behind because they could not afford him, they already had a son at home and wanted to “complete their family” with a girl.
According to the documents, the Australian man then misled consular staff when he told them he would be giving the boy to some friends in India “who were unable to conceive a child”.
The couple was repeatedly told abandoning the boy could leave him stateless because India did not recognise surrogate children as citizens.
The FOI material shows the High Commission in New Delhi sought “urgent” advice from three separate government departments in Canberra, and also raised the issue with the office of then prime minister Julia Gillard.
But three days later, consular staff were seemingly given the green light to allow the Australians to return home with just the baby girl.
Advice sent from DFAT in Canberra to the High Commission in India stated: “While we are concerned at the potential impact of the welfare of the child, this is a matter that needs to be addressed by Indian authorities.”
High Commission staff were then urged to monitor the situation closely.
The documents indicate the abandoned boy is entitled to Australian citizenship, but it is not automatically granted …
Improving education about immunisation is a better way to get people to vaccinate their children than threatening to withhold their welfare payments, experts say.
The Federal Government announced yesterday it is cracking down on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children in what Prime Minister Tony Abbott is calling a No Jab No Pay policy.
It will now hold back childcare rebates worth up to $15,000 annually for those who do not comply.
Health advocates say it is the right thing to do to prevent infectious diseases spreading.
Australia has vaccination rates of more than 90 per cent for children aged one to five, but more than 39,000 children aged under seven are not vaccinated because of their parents’ objections — an increase of more than 24,000 children over the past 10 years.
Some fear vaccines cause autism, despite the claims being repeatedly disproven.
According to pro-immunisation groups, the highest rates of parents not immunising their kids are found in Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs and the northern coast of New South Wales.
Pro-immunisation groups said they were yet to find any genuine religious groups who were anti-immunisation.
But some health experts are not so sure the new policy will actually increase the immunisation rate.
Australia’s free breast screening program will be expanded for the first time to include women over the age of 70, with the Health Minister hinting a possible boost to screening for other cancers was also imminent.
Until now, the Federal Government’s breast screen mammogram program finished when women turned 69.
Health Minister Sussan Ley said it was the first time Australian women aged 70 to 74 would be targeted for breast screening awareness.
An additional 220,000 breast screens will be delivered over four years at a cost of $55 million.
A national advertising campaign will begin this week, encouraging older women to get tested.
Cancer Australia chief executive Professor Helen Zorbas said a widespread review of the breast screen program in 2009 recommended expanding it to include the older age group.
Ms Zorbas said with women living longer, early detection and treatment for breast cancer was important.
Ms Ley said screening women aged 70 to 74 could detect as many as extra 600 breast cancers a year.
“Breast Screen Australia has been extremely successful since it was introduced more than 20 years ago having reduced the number of breast cancer deaths by over a third,” she said.
Breast cancer groups have been pushing for the program to be expanded to include older women.
Breast Cancer Network Australia’s Michelle Marven said they often hear from women older than 70, who are concerned when the mammogram reminder letters stop coming in the mail.
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