I did mention in comments on a previous story that I would write a review on the Homebirth Rally today, and here it is. You can also find the ABC News Online story here.
The rally kicked off at 10:45am with an indigenous welcome ceremony at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy at Old Parliament House, led by Aunty Isobell Coe, and indigenous birth advocate Fleur Magick. The crowd then marched up to the lawns of Parliament House – a colourful and noisy parade of brightly dressed mums, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, children, and midwifery students carrying banners.
The rally proper started at 11:30am. With a crowd estimated to be between 2,000 and 4,000 people (depending on who your news source is), there was no way I could hear the speeches. But the crowd certainly seemed appreciative, and I did catch a bit of a gutsy rendition of “I Will Survive” towards the end of the speeches. Here’s some YouTube of Rachel Siewert’s speech (Greens)
Despite the rain and cold, the crowd were fantastic! I’ve been to a few protest rallies in my time, and the atmosphere today was cooperative, supportive, and friendly – unlike anything I’ve experienced before at a rally. I literally walked around all day with a big grin on my face, meeting people who had flown to Canberra from Perth and Darwin and Brisbane, caught buses from Melbourne, driven down from Newcastle and Sydney, and taken their lunch break from Canberra offices to be there for the event.
A few highlights from the event for me, as I wandered around meeting up with friends and trying to stay out of the rain:
* Meeting Susan Stark, founder of Natural Parenting.
* Seeing so many mums at the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s baby feed & change tent. We organised this knowing that it would be unworkable for thousands of women and babies to go through Parliament House security to access toilets or somewhere to sit out of the weather and feed a baby.
* Anthea from Real Chai said she’s never sold so many cups of chai in one day! Bec from Funky Brew was also there to do coffee.
* Seeing a wider variety of baby slings in one place than I could ever imagine possible!
* Hearing Kerrie Tucker talk about the wonderful experience her friends had home birthing their babies in the 1970’s.
* Finally meeting the most rocking roller derby chick in Australia, visiting from Brisbane for the rally.
I got soaked pulling the tents down after the event, and I didn’t have time to eat until dinner tonight, but it will all be worth it if Nicola Roxon gets the message. Photos to come when I can get hold of them.