Media releases

Media releases and statements by Rachel Stephen-Smith

Feasibility of establishing a milk bank in the ACT

November 30, 2019

The ACT Government today released findings from the investigation into the feasibility of establishing an official milk bank in the ACT.

The report Feasibility of Establishing a Milk Bank in the ACT is in response to a motion moved in the ACT Legislative Assembly in October 2018:

That this Assembly:

6. calls on the ACT government to investigate the feasibility of establishing an official milk bank in the ACT and/or partnering with neighbouring jurisdictions:

a) to give ACT region women an opportunity to donate; and

b) to supply breast milk to babies in and out of a hospital setting.

The ACT Health Directorate has completed the investigation on the feasibility of a local milk bank. This work included consultation with key subject matter experts across the areas of milk bank management, nutrition, neonatology, lactation support, milk sharing practices and community perceptions.

Through exploring the available options, practicalities and required infrastructure, the ACT Health Directorate has determined creating a locally run milk bank is not a feasible option for the ACT.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the most feasible solution is to maintain current arrangements by sourcing pasteurised donor milk from an interstate milk bank.

“This will ensure that very premature and vulnerable babies continue to receive the best possible care,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

Community demand for a milk bank has not only been about receiving breast milk, but also providing local women the opportunity to donate excess breast milk to babies in need.

“ACT Health will continue exploring opportunities for eligible women in the ACT region to donate their excess breast milk, through an established process that gives donors the peace of mind that the appropriate screening and processing will be undertaken.

“This may involve building a relationship with the Red Cross Milk Bank, which facilitates breast milk collection in South Australia and New South Wales.

“The issues of infant feeding practices and breastfeeding are personal and often emotive topics. Our community benefits from a wealth of passion, knowledge and advocacy for maternal and child health.

“Thank you to all the women, health professionals and community members who participated in consultations,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

The Feasibility of establishing a milk bank in the ACT report can be found on the ACT Health website.