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Patty was 19 weeks pregnant when she lost her baby. An ‘unfair’ rule means Centrelink will not give her the necessary financial help so she can grieve in peace

By Makayla Muscat for Daily Mail Australia

05:33 April 28, 2024, updated 05:33 April 28, 2024



A grieving mother was forced to return to work just two weeks after giving birth to a stillborn child because of an ‘unfair’ rule that prevented her from receiving financial support.

Patty van Duijn, 29, was more than 19 weeks pregnant with her son Mason when she ‘had no choice’ but to terminate the pregnancy due to complications.

The Adelaide woman applied for Centrelink’s stillborn baby benefit to pay her bills and rent while she grieved, only to find out she doesn’t qualify due to a ‘disgusting’ rule.

According to Services Australia, you may be able to receive a one-off payment of $4,059.17 for a stillbirth that meets their definition.

Patty van Duijn, 29, was just over 19 weeks pregnant with her son Mason when she ‘had no choice’ but to terminate the pregnancy due to complications
According to Services Australia, you may be able to receive a one-off payment of $4,059.17 for a stillbirth that meets their definition

To be considered stillborn, a baby also had to have a gestation period of at least 20 weeks or weigh at least 400 grams at birth, according to the website.

Mason weighed just 230 grams when he was born at 19 weeks and one day.

‘I’m still going through the whole process of giving birth and holding a baby who is no longer alive. It is very traumatic and very difficult, but now I have to think about going back to work,” Ms Van Duijn told Yahoo.

“I’m just not sure who made this decision or if they actually know what people are going through, but a week shouldn’t make any difference because it’s still the experience, the trauma and everything that comes with it.”

It is understood Ms van Duijn and her partner Lee Simpson experienced the same complication during another pregnancy last year, but did not think ‘something like this would happen twice’.

Due to her long history of inflammatory bowel disease, she lost blood and also water from the amniotic sac containing her baby, meaning Mason could not survive.

While she is grateful for Mr. Simpson’s support, she said they cannot survive on his supervisor’s salary alone.

The pair have set up a GoFundMe so they can grieve in the short term without too much financial stress

The pair have set up a GoFundMe so they can grieve in the short term without too much financial stress.

“Me and my partner lost our little miracle baby at 19 weeks, hands down the hardest thing we had to do,” she said.

‘We need time now to grieve without having to worry about money, but paying the rent bills and living is beyond our means right now.

‘Centrelink won’t help us because the baby was only 19 weeks old, and they will only help you when the baby is 20 weeks old, which we think is absolutely disgusting!

“A loss is a loss, no matter how old the baby is.”

Ms Van Duijn is now calling for the rule to be changed so that other mothers in her situation don’t have to go through what she went through, saying ‘it is so wrong’.

Services Australia told Daily Mail Australia the ‘stillborn’ policy is set by the Department of Social Services and they cannot grant leniency based on individual circumstances.

The case has been referred to the Department of Social Services, which said “the Australian Government recognizes the tragic loss and trauma of miscarriage.”

“While a medical professional must confirm that a stillborn child has been delivered before families can receive the Stillborn Baby Payment, there are other forms of support available through Services Australia, including advice and support to connect with local services,” said a spokesperson for the department.

‘Depending on an individual’s circumstances and employment, he or she may also be entitled to paid or unpaid leave following a miscarriage. For example, the National Employment Standards of the Fair Work Act entitle all employees, including temporary workers, to carer’s leave.”