Deaf mum says baby could have been saved

A deaf mum who woke to find her newborn baby dead beside her says she would still be alive if the Department of Human Services had not failed to provide a special monitoring device.

The DHS had promised six weeks before the child’s death to deliver the device. “Instead I had to bury my baby girl. She was just seven weeks old,” the distraught mother told the Herald Sun yesterday.

She said DHS promised the device a week after the baby was born in December 2009, because the department raised concerns about her sleeping with the child. “It was the only option,” she said. “DHS were the ones that insisted I needed the device. They said co-sleeping was not an option. The $2000 device would send vibration alerts to the mother if the child was in trouble.

At a directions hearing ahead of a potential inquest, the court heard the need for the device was raised about a week before Christmas 2009. An order was finally placed three weeks later, a day before her baby died.

Coroner John Olle said he wanted an explanation of why it took so long for DHS to order the device. “Given the need was identified, should action have been taken more swiftly – irrespective of Christmas or New Year?” he said.

The mother said she decided to speak out because she didn’t want the tragedy to hit another family. “The device should have been organised when I was pregnant with my baby. They knew I was deaf and it was vital for the safety of my daughter.”

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Aids, Equipment, Technology, Education, Training, Early Intervention

Shannon Deery,

Herald Sun,

Date published:
Sat 26th May, 2012