Multiples: Josephine Pearl and Tess Gabriel


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Grace Esther and Abby Marie
Josephine Pearl and Tess Gabriel (Hamish)
Hugh James and Hamish Oliver
Mitchell Stephen and Caitlin Julie
Oscar Curtis and Callum Alexander
Patrick and Benjamin
Phoenix and Gabriel
Teagan Janice and Jennifer Raie
William and Kieran (Taylor)
Zenti Joan and Tilley Maree (Pip George)
Lillian, Charlee, Scarlett (John, Neil)

Note: Represents all twins and triplets seen this week in birth notices, news stories, and other media.

(Picture is of Jess and Emma Hood; photo from the Courier Mail)

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Girls: Halo and Wren



Male  female_blue fairy wren

Aaliyah Rose (Harrison)
Abbiegail (Konna)
Abbygayle Rose Marie (Ethan, Cody, Brianna)
Ada Daisy Heather (Sam, Emma)
Alexa Maive (Memphis)
Alice Isla
Amelia Lea
Anabella Eva
Annabelle Jade (Jake)
April Eva (Jemimah, Boston, Darcie, Rufus, Mac)
Ariya Jade-Pearl
Baylee Harper-Maree
Baylee June (Chase)
Brooklyn Rose
Charlotte Rose
Clara May
Clarissa Mae
Claudia Rose (Isla)
Daisy May
Dolly Anne
Eleanor Christina
Eleanor Mae (Isabelle)
Elyse Maree (Olivia)
Ella Mae
Elsa Sophie
Elsie Matilda (Erynn)
Emma Jane
Emmalyne Ruby
Emmerson Rose
Esther (Amelia, James)
Evelyn Marie (Ryley, Sebastian, Oscaray, Abigail, Annabella, Chandler)
Frankie Ann Audrey
Georgina May
Grace Lily-Anne
Halle Paige (Leo)
Halo (Trequan, Ramone, Zandjay)
Hannah Jade (Evie)
Imogen Rose (Isabella)
Indea Rose (Chloe, Oscar)
Indi Ellen (Levi)
Indiana Jayde
Indigo Rose
Isabella Helen Rose (Tayliah)
Isabelle Ava (Noah)
Isabelle Ivy (Jordan)
Isla Rose
Ivy Teresia
Josephine Isabelle (Aaliyah-Rose)
Kate Emilia (Peta)
Kathryn Grace
Kaydence Gloria-Anne
Lacie Joan (Matilda, Addison)
Lexie Marie (Georgia, Quinn, Ivy)
Liliana Rose (William, Henry)
Luca Mae
Luella Rose
Lulu Rose (Molly)
Mabel Joy (Aidan)
Mackenzie Mei-Lien (Baxter)
Mackenzie Sue
Maggie Joan
Makenzie Ivy
Matilda Grace
Matilda Maybelle
Mia Louise
Milla Jane (Chad)
Morgan Joan (Jaxon, Chloe, Logan, Ethan, Masen)
Neve Anne
Olivia Mae (Jackson, Bohdi)
Pallas (Ryder)
Peyton Harper
Phoebe (Leila)
Piper Catherine
Piper Renee (Zach, Ryley, Isla, Darcy)
Quinn Margot (Willow)
Rubie Lola (Taylor-Rai)
Ruby Ann
Rylie Jean (Evie)
Sienna Alyce (Patrick, Thomas)
Sophie Alexandra (Lucy, Ben, Josh)
Sophie Grace (Bridget, John, Gretel, Henry)
Sophie May (Olivia)
Stella Ruby (Izzy, Liam)
Sydnee Anne
Violet Asher
Willow Kimberley-May (Ashar, Levanah, Bailey, Flynn)
Zarah Josephine (Harry, Jinty)
Zoe Anne (Amelia)
Zoe Constance (Dylan, Seth)

Note: Represents all girls names seen this week, in birth notices, news stories, and other media, plus any names that were left over from previous weeks.

(Picture shows a (blue) male and (brown) female Superb Wren; photo from ABC)

Boys: Remiel and Romeo




Alexander Andrew (Ryan, Logan, Tyler)
Antonie Chris (Joshua, Dale, Zeke, Cody)
Archer Barry (Noah)
Archer Gray (Quinn)
Archer William (Annique)
Archie George (Joe, Harrison, Lillian)
Archie John William (Charlie)
Archy Francis
Beau Leon (Ryder, Nate)
Bohdi Kurt
Brax Philip (Jordy)
Caellum Robert (Stefan, Alex, Bryn)
Callan James
Charlie William (Max)
Christopher Lee
Cooper James (Lara Rose)
Dane Murray (Demi)
Darby Jon (Charli, Wil, Indie, Banjo)
David (Frederick, Candice)
Dominic Danny Aaron
Edward Francis “Ted” (Alby)
Elijah Jack (Keira)
Elijah Simeon
Eric Gavin John (Chelsea)
Ethan John (Alannah)
Ewan (Ella)
Finlay Andrew
Flynn Lucas (Olivia)
Flynn Robert
Fraser Benjamin (Imogen, Hannah)
Gary William James (Izabella)
Hamish Alex (Alistair)
Harry Hadyn (Mae)
Harry James (Max)
Hayden Jack Chee Neng
Hugh William (Charlotte, Nellie)
Hugo Angus (Teddy)
Jack John
Jack (Georgia)
Jackson Brian (Courtney, Charlie)
Jake Andrew (Emma)
James Francis
Jason Bradley
Jaxon James
Jaxon Lennard (Jayden, Tahlia, Charli)
Jed William
Jensen (Phoenix, Loxley)
Jett Wesley (Bohdi, Cayden)
Joel Joseph (Lyla)
Joseph Raymond (Alyssa, Sienna, Georgia)
Joshua Anthony (Christopher)
Judd Anthony (Nate, Isla)
Jude Phoenix
Kael John
Kaleb Thomas (Blake)
Lachlan Harry (Toby, Lucy)
Leo Charles (Iggy)
Lucas John (Sophie)
Lucas (Ava)
Marc Ian
Marley John
Max Gerard
Michael (Gabriel)
Mitch Thomas (Charlie)
Nash Patrick (Max, Zoe)
Ollie Peter (Dylan, Noah, Grace, Levi)
Oliver Isaac (Zachary, Chloe)
Oliver James
Oscar John (Caprice, Eden, Jack, Esther)
Parker Lee (Leila, Willow)
Patrick James
Quinn Everett
Rafael Kristian (Zoe, Orlando, Imogen)
Remiel Llewellyn
Riley Peter (Nicole, Toby, Tyson, Jack)
Romeo (Aiden, Julian)
Rory Patrick (Bridie, William, Malachy)
Samuel John (Max)
Samuel John
Sidney John
Sonny James
Steven Phillip (Aleara, Roseanne)
Tai Claude Scott
Taylan John
Ted James (Max)
Thomas William
Trent James
Tyler Thomas James
Tyler (Jayden)
William Vince
Zedakiah Matthew Alfred

Note: Represents all boys names seen this week, in birth notices, news stories, and other media, plus any names left over from previous weeks.

(Photo from Facebook page of Furious Kingston children’s wear of Melbourne)

Update: The Dawn of a New Eve




Scarlett wrote in to the blog as she was suffering from a severe case of baby name regret. She and her partner Toby had been through a very stressful time when naming their daughter about a year ago, and selected the name Evelyn in a muddled and miserable state.

Ever since, Scarlett has felt that the name Evelyn was ruined for her by the very process of choosing the name, and it never felt right to her. She wanted to change her daughter’s name to Eve – a small change that would be easy for others to adjust to. However, while Toby wasn’t against the idea, he worried that making the name change official could be embarrassing for them.

Since writing in to the blog, Scarlett and Toby have started calling their daughter Eve, and have sent away their application for a legal change of name to the birth registry. It has been an easy and natural transition, and for the first time, Scarlett is proud to introduce her daughter, instead of feeling shy and diffident when saying her name.

Scarlett has written in to say thank you for the support she received, and how wonderful that the situation has been resolved so easily. Naming mistakes can often be fixed, so if your baby’s name is making you desperately unhappy, there is something you can do about it.

Update: He’s Short and Sweet to a T!


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Kate and Steve were expecting their third child, and since they received help at Waltzing More Than Matilda when naming #2, thought it was worthwhile to try us again.

If the baby was a boy, both Kate and Steve were keen on the name Ted for him. However, Kate’s mum didn’t think Ted was a “proper” name, and that a more formal option was necessary for the birth certificate.

Kate wondered whether her mum was right, but after writing into the blog she felt a lot more confident about their decision, and when their baby boy was born, he was named


baby brother to Madeline and Lewis.

Kate and Steve have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the name Ted; most people have been a little surprised by the name, but in a good way. The midwives at the hospital told Kate that they have seen a few Teds born lately, so Kate thinks it must be a name on the rise – I agree with the midwives, as I see it fairly regularly in birth notices now.

If Ted had been a girl, his name would have been Rose Eleanor, and Kate loves the name so much that she feels a tiny bit sad that they won’t be having any more children, because baby Ted has completed their family. There’s so often that name you never get to use!

Congratulations Kate and Steve! Ted is such a great name, and it sounds as if everyone else thinks so too.

(Picture shows Winnie-the-Pooh alphabet figurine)

Famous Name: Ava


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Poster - On the Beach (1959)_11

Today is the 55th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach, starring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck. Based on the novel by Nevil Shute, the film depicts the aftermath of a nuclear war, set in the near-future of the 1960s. With most of the world’s population dead, the film centres on a small group of people in Melbourne waiting for the lethal fallout to reach them.

Most of On the Beach was filmed on location, and a piece of local folklore is that Ava Gardner described Melbourne as “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world”. Melbourne was a quiet little place in the 1950s, the first day of filming was abominably hot, and the media was horrible to Ava Gardner, so you could forgive her for being a bit grumpy. However, the quote was actually invented by a Sydney journalist with his tongue in cheek – whatever Ms Gardner’s thoughts about Melbourne, she was too professional to broadcast them publicly.

On the Beach made a financial loss, but was praised by critics, and has become a (slightly neglected) classic. The film created a ruckus in Melbourne, which went so crazy over seeing big Hollywood stars in their little city that they positively frightened most of the cast. Even the Australians cast as extras were mobbed as if they were A-listers. The film’s grim message was considered so traumatic that the Salvation Army, who play a small but significant role in the film, were on hand to provide counselling to people in cinemas.

Another of the film’s achievements was to bring attention to Waltzing Matilda, which is used to great effect during the closing scenes of On the Beach. It also opens the film, used to immediately signify an Australian setting. Waltzing Matilda became more popular after the film – not just in Australia, but overseas as well.

I read On the Beach as a young teenager, and found the story utterly compelling because for once the scenes of horror are set in Australia. The book has sometimes been criticised for showing the end of the world happening so quietly, and the characters going about their daily lives as calmly as possible. But I thought it made the story far more chilling, and far more real; many years later, the story is still vivid in my memory.

Ava was a medieval girl’s name, pronounced AH-vuh. It seems to have been a feminine form of the Germanic name Avo, originally a short form of names starting with Avi-. The meaning of it is much debated, but with no agreement reached. One theory is that it meant “desired”, to indicate a long wished-for child, but other ideas are that it came from aval, meaning “strength, power”, or from alfi, meaning “elf”.

In Norman English, the name produced Aveline, which evolved into Evelina, and is the basis for the surname Evelyn, also used as a first name. Another variant was Avis or Avice, which although it looks like the Latin for “bird”, is an elaboration of Ava. Av- names were quite fashionable in medieval times, thanks to Ava.

Two famous medieval Avas are Saint Ava, a Frankish princess who became a nun after being miraculously cured of blindness, and Ava of Melk, an anchorite and religious poet who was the first known female writer in the German language.

While Ava is still said AH-vuh in Germany and most European countries, in modern English it is usually pronounced AY-vuh. Some people see AY-vuh as a modern continuation of the medieval AH-vuh, while others see it as a completely separate modern English name, perhaps a variant of Eva.

While Ava may well have been understood as a form of Eva by some English-speakers, in continental Europe Ava was often understood as related to the Latin word Ave (said AH-veh), meaning “hail, greeting”, as in Ave Maria, or to similar words and names in modern languages. If we discount the English Ava (AY-vuh) on those grounds, then the European Ava (AH-vuh) must also be brought into question.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Ava has historically been more common in the United States than other English-speaking countries, because America has had significant immigration from Germany and Scandinavia. You could see the English pronunciation of Ava as the American pronunciation of the name. You’ve probably noticed that Americans tend to pronounce AY sounds rather than AH ones – for example, they often say the name Dana as DAY-nuh instead of DAH-nuh.

Just to add another layer, Ava is also a common Persian name for girls, meaning “voice, sound, call”, and said AH-vuh, making this a very multicultural name.

The name Ava was popularised in the United States in the 19th century by the Philadelphia socialite Ava Lowle Willing, who married John Astor IV (called Jack), from the prominent Astor family. They named their daughter Ava Alice Muriel Astor (born 1902), making this an early celebrity baby name. The Astors were divorced, and not long after, Jack Astor was drowned during the Titanic disaster, making him the richest person to sail on the Titanic, and probably the richest person in the world at the time.

Ava Alice Muriel Astor married Prince Serge Obolensky, and their wedding was the social event of the London season. She went on to divorce and marry several more times in both England and the United States; pretty, supremely wealthy, and a patron of the arts, her name was well known on both sides of the Atlantic.

The actress Ava Gardner was born at the end of 1922, not long after Ava Astor had been photographed visiting Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt with her fiancé, Prince Obolensky. Unlike many other film stars, Ava Gardner never had to change her name to something more screen-worthy: it was already perfect – glamorous, fashionable, upper-class sounding, and not too common.

Ava Gardner’s film career did not make Ava a popular name in her lifetime. Continuously on the US Top 1000 since the late 19th century, and #751 in 1941 when Gardner first began getting parts in films, it peaked at #376 during the 1950s, at the height of Gardner’s success.

Ava left the US Top 1000 during the 1970s, when Gardner’s career had waned, but returned in the 1980s, after Ava Gardner suffered two strokes and became bedridden. Her serious health problems were widely publicised, putting her name back in the news, and no doubt there was genuine shock and sympathy for the Hollywood star’s condition.

The name Ava began rising after Ava Gardner’s death in 1990, and its popularity was further hastened by celebrities choosing it as a baby name, including Aidan Quinn, Heather Locklear, and Reese Witherspoon – in the last case at least, as a conscious tribute to the late Ava Gardner.

In Australia, the name Ava first ranked in the 1990s at #465, and rose so rapidly that it was in the Top 100 by 2003, debuting at #70. Bad luck to all those parents who called their baby girl Ava in the 1990s because they saw it an an underused name! Or maybe good luck that they jumped on the trend nice and early.

In 2005, Ava made a massive leap forward to #22, as this was the same year Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness welcomed their daughter Ava. In 2011 the name Ava joined the Top 10 at #9, the year after Lleyton Hewitt and Bec Cartright welcomed their youngest daughter and named her Ava.

Currently Ava is #3 nationally, #8 in New South Wales, #2 in Victoria, #8 in Queensland, #3 in Western Australia, #17 in Tasmania, #17 in the Northern Territory, and #2 in the Australian Capital Territory. It was one of the fastest-rising names at Baby Center Australia last year.

Ava is highly popular throughout the English-speaking world, being a Top 10 name in the United States, Canada, England/Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and New Zealand. However, it is slightly more popular in Australia than anywhere else, and has so far peaked higher here than in any other country.

Yes, Ava is very popular – so much so that some parents may be wary of choosing it. But it is also boosting the fortunes of other names, such as sound-alikes Ada, Avery, Aria, Arya and Ayla, and has risen in tandem with Eva, Evie, Evelyn and Ivy.

This modern classic has been very influential on contemporary girls’ name trends. Maybe you won’t use Ava because it is too popular, but you might use one of her style-sisters, like Isla or Maeve. Or perhaps something unusual like Alba, Avalon, Avril or Aveley now seems like a good choice, or an older name like Ida or Maida no longer seems fusty, but pretty and fresh.

The power of Ava is such that we will be hearing her echoes for many, many years to come.

Update: The Baby Who Came With Good Tidings for the Season


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Courtney wanted an unusual name for her second baby, and her first choice for a son was Arrow. She wrote in the blog wondering if Arrow was really too strange to use, as her husband Joel worried it was too different.

Most people who answered the poll seemed to think Arrow was the right sort of different rather than too weird. Courtney remained strongly in favour of Arrow, but in the end Joel couldn’t be persuaded.

Courtney and Joel recently welcomed their second son, and together they have decided that his name is


little brother to Israel.

Both Courtney and Joel love the name Gabriel, and Courtney thinks that the name works well as a brother for Israel. She also sees the name as a little nod towards the Christmas season, and I couldn’t agree more, as the archangel Gabriel so often features in Christmas pageants and Nativity scenes.

Congratulations to Courtney and Joel on choosing a beautiful name for their son! Even though Courtney’s choice of Arrow was vetoed, they were able to work together to find a name that was perfect for both of them. Courtney says maybe someone else will choose Arrow – who knows, maybe it is the right name for you?

(Painting shows a detail from Annunciation by Titian – 1522)

Waltzing With … Paddington


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Family movies as a Christmas season treat is a tradition I really look forward to, and already we have been to see two films based on children’s books with Australian stars: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, with Ed Oxenbould as the hero Alexander, and Paddington, with Nicole Kidman as the villain Millicent.

Paddington is surely Britain’s favourite illegal immigrant – a polite stowaway bear from darkest Peru with a penchant for marmalade sandwiches, who is found by the Brown family at a railway station, with a note reading: Please look after this bear. The Browns take the bear home to 32 Windsor Gardens and name him Paddington, after the railway station where they found him (his Peruvian name of Pastuso is apparently too difficult for English-speakers to pronounce).

Michael Bond was inspired to write the Paddington stories by a lonely-looking teddy bear he bought as a present for his wife, and named after the railway station close to their home. The first book was written in the 1950s, and Michael Bond was influenced by his memories of evacuated children during the war, often left at railway stations with a label around their necks to identify them. Surely he was also influenced by increased post-war immigration to London – Paddington’s best friend is a Hungarian shopkeeper.

Without giving away too many spoilers, the movie has all the warm-hearted charm and humour of the books, including lots of jokes for the adults watching. However, it has a touch more darkness and a lot more adventure (much needed, as the books’ big adventures tend to revolve around going to the shops or the cinema). Somehow the movie manages to have some of the books’ sadness, because despite the comedic chaos, there was always a poignancy to Paddington’s situation.

Paddington is a district of central London which began as a Saxon village on the city’s outskirts. Even in the early 19th century, Paddington was surrounded by open fields and meadows.

For many years, the area had a dark connection, because it was in this neighbourhood that the notorious Tyburn Tree, or gallows, was set up. This was the main place for public executions from medieval times to the late 18th century, a spectacle which attracted thousands. A “Paddington Fair Day” meant an execution day, while “to dance the Paddington Frisk” meant to be hanged.

Paddington’s development began in the 19th century, with the canal and the railway station. Paddington Station was designed by the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and today there is a statue of Paddington Bear on platform 1. You can also buy a Paddington Bear stuffed toy from Paddington station, with a label asking you to please take care of this bear. These toys were first created by Jeremy Clarkson’s mother, making enough money to send Jeremy to a private school, and also providing him with his first job as Paddington Bear salesman.

The Victorian era was Paddington’s heyday, when it was described as a “city of palaces”. With its grand terraced houses overlooking Hyde Park, and its garden squares, it became a highly fashionable address. Many famous people have lived in Paddington, including Robert Browning and Winston Churchill, and more recently, Emma Thompson and Tony Blair.

The name Paddington is believed to mean “Padda’s farm”. Padda doesn’t seem to have been a common Anglo-Saxon name, but enough examples exist to show it is genuine. The meaning is not certain (it may be a variant spelling or shortening of another name), but one theory is that it came from the Old English word pad, meaning “toad”. Toads were considered magical creatures in ancient Europe (we still think of witches and wizards as having toads for familiars), and this makes me wonder if the name Paddington is a little more mystical than it might appear at first sight.

Paddington is also an inner-city suburb of Sydney, about 3 km from the CBD, and named after the London area because of its similarly close proximity to the city centre. When the Victoria Barracks army base was built here in the 19th century, the village of Paddington sprung up to house artisans and labourers who worked to build the barracks. It grew rapidly, with large estates filled with terraced housing, and by the early twentieth century was thriving.

During the Great Depression, Paddington became a slum, but after World War II its fortunes changed as European migrants moved in to the suburb, finding it cheap and conveniently located. In the 1960s, students and artists arrived to add bohemian flair, and it also became part of the gay “scene”, with the first Mardi Gras parade marching proudly down Oxford Street in 1978.

As the suburb became gentrified, Paddington’s Victorian architecture meant that it was protected as a heritage area, and these days “Paddo” is fashionable and upmarket. The main streets are filled with art galleries, trendy stores, boutiques, antiques, and interior designers, while artists and craftspeople hawk their wares every weekend at Paddington Market.

There is another Paddington in Brisbane, which is likewise inner city, and has a similar history to the one in Sydney. There is also a gold mine in Western Australia called Paddington.

The name Paddington is not often found in historical records, but use goes back to the 18th century, and is almost certainly prompted by the surname Paddington rather than directly after the place in London. It is much more common as a middle name, and in Australian records, is found extremely rarely, and only as a middle name.

So that’s Paddington – a rare name, but a genuine one, with some history of use even in Australia. It is very closely associated with the famous bear, but that might be exactly the reason a Paddington fan wants to use the name, and Paddington is such a nice bear. In Australia it will remind people of the Sydney suburb, but again, it’s a fashionable area with positive associations.

When I did a couple of minutes idle searching online, I found not just one, but two people considering the name Paddington for a baby – one of them Australian. I have to admit their tentative idea was shot down pretty hard by others, so there doesn’t seem to be much support for the idea of a baby named Paddington.

However, I think it could make an awesome middle name, and if you have your heart set on a little Paddington, Paddy would make a cute nickname. Far be it from me to tell people not to name children after fictional bears.

(Photo shows terrace housing in Paddington, Sydney)

Darley and Denley


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Simon and Eli
Frankie, Georgina and Isobel – all girls (Archie)

Adelaide Anne Therese (Hallie, Hendrix)
Alice Susanna (Elsa)
Ava Lily (Lilac, Summer)
Ayan (Gum, Ajok, Monydeeng, Den, Nyadeeng, Sam)
Bella Ariana (Mila)
Brooklyn Elise (Tyde)
Darley Louchelle Lola-Rae (Hadlee)
Ellie Irene
Eloise Margaret Jean
Greta Valerie (Mataya, Sloane)
Haydee Mary
Ivy Gladys May
Marnie Sophia
Melody Sarah Rose (Lorelai)
Minti Rae
Moira Leah (Domonic)
Natazsia (Celeste, Kiara, Aleese, Tomas, Shanaya, Oriella, Jaelah, Eleena, Xienna)
Pyper Gertrude (Lexus, Boston)
Quinn Catherine (Trey, Charlotte, Faith, Louisa)
Rosi Belle
Ruth Mabel (Elsie)
Sadie Maya (Alira, Oskar)
Sage Elizabeth
Sophia Eleanor (Charlotte)

Alexander Aubrey Wilfred (Hunter)
Ari Peter (Sanjay, Flynn)
Baxter Patrick John
Campbell Flynn
Denley Jack (Archibald)
Hamish Alwyn
Harry Emerson
Henry Benjamin Stephen (Charlotte)
Jagger William
Jem Arthur
Jet Liam
Kalen Mark
Leo Bruce Jay
Lex Eusbio
Lewis Elliott
Lincoln Francis (Addison)
Noah Jason
Ollie Michael (Lucy)
Rory Mac (Orla)
Sidney George “Sid” (Angus)
Taj Edward
Tyce James
William Campbell (Alexander)
Xavier Matthew

(Picture shows children making Christmas tree ginger biscuits at cooking classes in Perth; photo from BuggyBuddys)

Changes to the New South Wales Birth Registry System


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A few months ago I wrote an article on the consequences of not registering your baby’s name, with advice being that there were no immediate penalties for not making the sixty-day registration deadline, but it should be completed as soon as possible.

The state of New South Wales has now made changes to their birth registry system. This follows two tragic cases of abandonment of newborn babies in Sydney, which occurred within a week of one another.

In one case a baby boy had been left in a drain for almost a week, with the mother now facing charges of attempted murder, and in the other, a baby girl’s decomposed body was found buried in sand dunes, with the parents still unknown. This seems to underline Unicef’s findings that unregistered babies were more likely to be neglected and abused.

Attorney-General Brad Hazzard says a new software program named LifeLink will be introduced early next year to automatically match birth notifications from hospitals with registrations from parents. At present, hospitals have seven days to notify the registry of a baby’s birth, and it is the parents’ responsibility to officially register the baby within sixty days.

The Attorney-General says he is concerned that there may be other unregistered babies out there, and that they could be at risk. The LifeLink program is designed to provide more consistency in the birth registration process. It would also work as a cross-reference to identify parents who have forgotten to register their child, or deliberately failed to do so.

A taskforce has been set up to improve communication between authorities on births in New South Wales, involving the Department of Justice, police, NSW Health, Family and Community Services, and the Ombudsmans Office.

The Attorney-General explains that this is a way to ensure that agencies can work together to assist parents – he assures us that it’s about improving the system, and will not be about penalising parents. He believes that the overwhelming majority of parents register their baby within sixty days, but wants to ensure that no children in New South Wales are left unregistered.

For now, the registry uses emails, letters and phone calls to track down parents who have not officially registered their child’s birth, but does not visit them in person. If they cannot make contact with the parents, they are supposed to refer the case to Family and Community Services.

Obstetrician Andrew Pesce, the Sydney West Health Service head of Women’s Health and former Australian Medical Association president, questions the proficiency of the current system. Although abandoned babies are said to be very rare, Dr Pesce wonders how they know it is a rare event without a proper system in place.

You will have probably noticed a loophole in the system set up to close the loopholes in the system – LifeLink will only be of assistance if the baby was born in a hospital. One of the issues with the baby girl found in the sand dunes is that she doesn’t appear to have been born in a hospital, thus there is no way to find her parents’ identity through hospital records.

It suggests that desperate mothers may be frightened to go to hospital to give birth, or to seek out a registered midwife for a homebirth, leaving them and their babies extremely vulnerable, and completely outside the system. LifeLink will not fix this problem, and could possibly even act as a further discouragement. I don’t know what can be done in such cases, and nobody else seems to know either.

Although details seem fairly vague at this stage, it does suggest that parents in New South Wales would probably be wise to register their baby’s name within the sixty-day period from next year to avoid unwanted contact from government agencies. And as we’ve learned from Scarlett’s story, changing a baby’s name in New South Wales is somewhat problematic as the original name is not just “wiped out”, so you need to be really sure of the baby’s name before you register it.

It will be interesting to see if other states follow New South Wales’ lead.


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