Yesterday, 17 November, we marked World Prematurity Day. Every year around the world 15 million babies are born too soon and, sadly, one million of these babies do not make it.
I am glad to be able to wear this badge and to show my support for families who have been affected by premature birth. Preterm or premature birth is the second-leading cause of newborn death. However, there is very little awareness of this issue.
I would also like to show my support for the international campaign Light it up Purple. As we drove into Canberra last night I was proud to see the iconic Questacon building lit up in purple. Questacon was in good company with the likes of the Empire State Building and others around the world.
The National Premmie Foundation is an Australian charity. I would like to mention a young lady from my electorate, Bess Gairns, who lives in Mungindi, in north-west New South Wales. She is the proud mother of young Eddison, who was born prematurely. He is now a healthy young man with a great interest in John Deere tractors and is clearly going to follow in his father’s footsteps and be a cotton farmer. Bess has done some great work with the National Premmie Foundation and I commend her efforts in promoting awareness of the 25,000 deaths every year in Australia from premature birth. There are obvious difficulties in having a premature born child when you live in regional Australia. Bess and her partner, Andrew, certainly know that.
This is a very serious issue and I am grateful for the opportunity to bring this matter to the House today.