Birth of a new campaign – Generation West

By Sumeyya Ilanbey

Meet baby Derek – born on September 7, he is the west’s 10,000th newborn this year – a monumental milestone for the western suburbs, where there have been on average 270 babies born weekly since January.

With that comes added pressure to the already over-stretched maternal and children’s services in the region.

Derek’s birth coincided with the launch of a new campaign, Generation West, which calls on the state candidates to commit to investment in family health services ahead of the November election.

The campaign is calling for a centre of parenting excellence, expanded services for vulnerable families, a boost to dental health for children, more support for parents before and after birth and a review of maternal and paediatric services in Melbourne’s west.

Campaign spokeswoman, and Moonee Valley councillor, Samantha Byrne said the first 1000 days of a child’s life was critical, but services to support children and their parents in the region were lacking.

“The service just hasn’t kept up with demand,” Ms Byrne said. “About 14,000 babies will be born in Melbourne’s west this year, and they’re being left behind.”

Derek was born at Sunshine Hospital at 3am on September 7.

His parents Jemma and Jordan Mizzi, of Kurunjang, did not attend any birth classes because they were booked out.

Ms Mizzi told Channel Seven she was induced at Sunshine Hospital on September 3, but asked to go home because there weren’t enough beds.

“They definitely need more rooms and services,” Ms Mizzi said. “[The arrival of Derek] was amazing – a very long experience, but the staff were wonderful.”

The community is being urged to get behind Generation West and lobby their state candidates.

“Melbourne’s west is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, but if we don’t get funding to expand services, families will face real problems accessing early years support they might need,” Ms Byrne said.

“It’s not only our massive growth but the lack of proper planning and provision.

“We’re not asking for the impossible, just a commitment from our local MPs to act now.”

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