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Safe Haven Boxes Save Newborns Overseas, But Not In Australia

by | Tue, Jun 6 2023

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A healthy baby boy who was only 30 minutes old is the latest newborn to be recovered from an American safe haven baby box.

The tiny boy was retrieved within minutes of being anonymously placed in a box at a Knoxville, Tennessee fire station just after midnight.

The boxes which are built into the walls of emergency facilities are aimed at helping parents and babies in crisis situations.

They’re fitted with a bassinet, temperature controls and a silent alarm to alert authorities as soon as they’re opened.

NPR reports there are at least 134 boxes at US fire stations and hospitals.

All American states have Safe Haven Laws to allow mothers to surrender unharmed newborns without fear of prosecution.

Safe haven boxes can also be found across Europe, Canada, South Africa, China and South Korea.

But there are none in Australia where abandoning a child is still considered a crime.

Calls for their installation from Australian coroners and politicians have fallen on deaf ears.

Tasmanian Senator Helen Polley has been campaigning for Safe Haven Laws for the past 15 years.

While Australian parents can relinquish care of their children through social services, the Senator said many vulnerable mothers need an anonymous option.

“A 15 or 16 year-old who is pregnant and hiding her pregnancy from her parents, is not going to go to the department (of child services) and talk to them,” she told Kidspot.

“We know there are all sorts of circumstances — assaults, drugs and alcohol, mental health — we shouldn’t be judging them, but the reality is this keeps happening,” Senator Polley lamented.

“It has to be addressed, the rights of a child should be first and foremost, so when you’re born you are able to have a life and to be loved. A baby is still better off in a safe haven than dumped on the side of road or at a bus stop.”

The Senator has launched a new petition calling on State and Territory Governments to embrace Baby Safe Haven Laws.

“The big sleeping giant is we really don’t know how many babies are abandoned in this country and never found,” she warned.