The stories of the two babies abandoned in Sydney last month broke hearts across the country, with many left wondering why a safe alternative isn’t available to women struggling to cope with the pressures of parenthood.
But now one Sydney grandmother is taking matters into her own hands — by encouraging mothers who fear they might harm their babies to reach out to her for assistance.
Two weeks ago, cyclists discovered a baby boy left abandoned in a drain in Sydney’s north west — and then, on Sunday morning, two young boys found the body of a newborn baby girl buried in the sand while playing at Sydney’s Maroubra beach.
Catherine Lucre, a midwife and grandmother of three, has started the Facebook page “Operation Safe Haven” to help mothers in distress and provide them with a safe place to leave their babies.
Catherine Lucre has vowed to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of the women she assists (Image via Seven News)
“I’m prepared to do whatever is required to prevent a baby from dying,” she told Seven News. “I’ll do whatever it takes, I’ll go wherever I have to.”
Lucre, of Camden in Sydney’s south-west, has left a bassinet at her front door to allow mothers to leave their babies anonymously.
She has also offered to come to mothers directly to offer assistance and ensure the children’s safety.
“I would then take the baby straight to the nearest hospital, contact DOCS, contact the police but maintain the mother’s privacy and confidentiality.” she told Seven.
Child abandonment is an offence in Australia, but some parents who feel they have run out of options have left their babies at their local hospital, police station or a local church.
Baby hatches, which allow mothers to legally leave unwanted babies in a safe place to be cared for, are currently unavailable in Australia — which means there are currently no spaces available to women who wish to leave an unwanted babies.
At least 20 countries offer women “safe havens” to leave unwanted babies, but Australia has no plans to introduce safe drop off centres. (Image via Seven News)
Gabrielle Upton, the New South Wales Minister for Family and Community Services, has said that the hatches don’t work and instead encouraged mothers to look to welfare agencies for assistance.
“If the government isn’t doing anything, I will” Lucre told the Daily Mail, as NSW Health maintains that there are no plans to introduce safe drop off centres for mothers.
With Operation Safe Haven growing in popularity on Facebook with over 1700 likes, Lucre now plans to establish a database to help women across the country.
If you are struggling with an unwanted pregnancy or a newborn baby, you can contact the following organisations for help.
- Barnados Australia provides adoption services and short and long-term Foster care for children in need. To find out more about their services visit their website here.
- The Australian Government provides a national and state-run scheme for Child protection, including options for adoption. To find out more about the services each state offers visit their website.
- Dr Marie Stopes runs abortion clinics around Australia. To find out more about the services they offer visit their website here.
- Sexual Health and Family planning Australia have clinics in all states and territories that can provide services and information surrounding abortion. Find out more here.
- Beyond Blue offers support to women and mothers in need who are suffering from perinatal mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Visit their website here, or call 1300 22 4636 to talk to someone.
- PANDA also offers support for women who are suffering from post natal depression. To find out more about their services visit their website here or call their helpline if you need to talk to someone: 1300 726 306.
- Lifeline runs a 24-hour hotline to help assist those in a crisis situation. If you need support call them on 13 11 14.
- Parent Line offers a 24-hour support hotline for parents and carers who need to talk to someone. Call them on 1300 1300 52.