Last year I moved a motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly calling on the Government to investigate the feasibility of establishing a milk bank in the ACT.
The Minister for Health has just tabled the report of that investigation. You can find it here.
The investigation has recommended that a milk bank in the ACT is not feasible at this time, in part due to our low population numbers and a gap in medical research to demonstrate the benefits of pasteurised milk being shared outside of a NICU setting.
I am encouraged that it is not entirely off the table. The Minister stated that the ACT will aim to participate in research that examines the benefits of pasteurised breast milk being shared in wider groups. If medical eligibility criteria expands, the ACT Health Directorate will reassess the potential demand for, and financial implications of, a local service.
Pleasingly, the Minister has asked the directorate to continue to discuss opportunities for eligible women in the ACT region to donate their excess breast milk, through an established process that gives donors the peace of mind that the appropriate screening and processing will be undertaken. This may involve building a relationship with the Red Cross Milk Bank, which facilitates breast milk collection in South Australia and New South Wales.
This was a big body of work in response to a great deal of community interest. Thank you to the many stakeholders who participated in this work. I especially thank all those in the community who reached out to me to share their very personal stories regarding milk donation.
I look forward to - and will continue to advocate for - more improvements in this space.