Mums could be left without a vital helpline as a result of government cutbacks.
News.com.au reports the government funding for the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s 24 hour telephone counselling service runs out in June and the association says there is no process for it to reapply for the $1 million a year grant it relies on to survive.
“The government hasn’t indicated if we will have ongoing funding and there is no process for us to submit for new funds,” Australian Breastfeeding Association chief Rebecca Nalor told News Corp.
The service takes calls from 88,000 women every year asking for advice on how to breast feed and Ms Nalor says without the service Australia’s poor breast feeding rate is likely to slump even further.
“If we don’t have clarity regarding funding by end April will be have to start making plans to close the service including making six people redundant,” Ms Nalor says.
The federal government has slashed by $793 million the grants it provides to groups that deliver mental health services, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, chronic disease and peak groups like the Heart Foundation and Public Health Association over four years.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the Government continues to support the efforts of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), and recognises the value of the Australian Breastfeeding Helpline.
The department received a proposal for a funding extension from the association yesterday and was assessing it, she said.
“Be assured that the Australian Government recognises the important contribution that breastfeeding makes to good health throughout life for both mothers and babies is committed to assisting mothers and their families to breastfeed, promoting the value of breastfeeding and improving breastfeeding rates in Australia,” the spokeswoman said.
A petition has been setup via change.org to help save the ABA’s National Breastfeeding Helpline. It has already received over 4800 signatures.
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