A MCHR evaluation of the Victorian homebirthing pilot program conducted on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health was recently reported in the media.
In Victoria, following consultation with key stakeholder groups, the Department of Health identified an opportunity to provide women with greater choice in place of birth through the introduction of a publicly funded homebirth model of maternity care. This led to the establishment of a homebirthing pilot program offering midwife-led homebirths through two Melbourne metropolitan hospitals – Sunshine Hospital and Casey Hospital.
MCHR undertook the evaluation of this pilot program, led by Ass/Prof Helen McLachlan. The results of the evaluation formed a confidential report for the Victorian Department of Health to inform government and assist in decision-making about the future operation and possible expansion of publicly funded homebirthing in Victoria. This report was released in part by the state government on March 8.
The Herald Sun's cover story of the Weekend magazine on 9 March was "Homebirths" with a 3-page article titled "Reckless or responsible?". The Herald Sun also published an article titled "Homebirths with hospital back-up could be rolled out across Victoria" (Herald Sun, March 8, 2013 - available for free on the Daily Telegraph's website). The Age ran an article titled "Inquiry over infant's death amid home birth scrutiny".
Health Minister David Davis has written to the Perinatal Services Advisory Committee asking to consider the findings of the report and to seek advice on the implementation and expansion of a publicly funded homebirths in Victoria.