On 29 May 2024, the NSW Legislative Council Select Committee on Birth Trauma tabled its Report to the NSW Government in which it made 43 recommendations to address preventable birth trauma.

The NSW Government has until 29 August 2024 to respond to the Report.

The concept of birth trauma can include physical injury (such as pelvic floor damage), psychological distress (such as fear for the life of the mother or baby, or loss of control), or disrespectful treatment (such as dismissing or ignoring the mother’s birth wishes).

The Select Committee also sheds light on the prevalence of ‘obstetric violence’, which is recognised as comprising “outright physical abuse, profound humiliation and verbal abuse, coercive or unconsented medical procedures, lack of confidentiality, failure to get fully informed consent, refusal to give pain medication” among other things.


The Report made 5 findings, including:

  1. There are a number of individuals who have suffered preventable birth trauma in NSW.
  2. Urgent efforts must be made to address avoidable and preventable factors which contribute to birth trauma.
  3. In some cases of birth trauma, women have recounted that they experienced this as a form of violence.
  4. Prospective parents need to be provided with clear and comprehensive education about all aspects of pregnancy and childbirth so that consent given to any obstetric intervention is fully informed.
  5. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is inadequate for the NSW maternity care system and that tailoring care to meet the needs of individuals is essential to improving outcomes.

Medical negligence claims for birth trauma

The Report highlights that birth trauma is a widespread issue which has not been appropriately addressed to date. The Report is a step in the right direction at recognising and addressing this issue. However, for many women who already have and are continuing to experience birth trauma and/or obstetric violence, further action may need to be taken.

In NSW, claims in negligence arising from birth trauma or obstetric violence may be able to be pursued if it can be established that:

  1. The medical practitioner or hospital acted in a manner that, at the time the treatment was provided, was not in accordance with what was widely accepted in Australia by peer professional opinion as competent professional practice; and
  2. The service provided by the medical practitioner or hospital caused you to suffer injury, loss or damage.

If this can be established, claims in negligence can give you access to compensation which can include:

  1. Your pain and suffering as a result of the treatment;
  2. Past and future medical and other expenses;
  3. Past and future loss of income;
  4. Care and domestic assistance, provided on a voluntary and paid basis; and
  5. Loss of capacity to provide domestic services to a dependent.

Medical negligence claims can be complex and differ to other personal injury claims. So, it is important to speak with lawyers who are experts in medical negligence claims. At Turner Freeman Lawyers, we are experts in medical negligence claims. We operate on a “no win, no fee” basis, which means that we are only paid if your claim is successful.

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by birth trauma or obstetric violence, please reach out to Angela O’Reilly on (02) 8833 2500 or contact us here.