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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

The hurdles of a life without a birth certificate

Date posted: 5 June 2014

Dr Paula Gerber, an Associate Professor at Monash University, is working on a research project looking at how many Indigenous people in the Northwest of Western Australia cope without a birth certificate.

A birth certificate it is one of those pieces of paper that may only be used once every few years, such as applying for a job, a license or passport, however it is difficult to get by in contemporary society without one.

Initially, it was assumed that the problem of not having a birth certificate was a historic one, only affecting older people, but it has become apparent through the research that thousands of people are not registered, and many of them are Indigenous.

The complex issue of not obtaining a birth certificate for new born Indigenous babies can be attributed to early discharge from hospitals before paperwork is completed, the cost of registration of birth for people on low incomes and the penalties of up to $1000 for not registering at birth.

Case studies by Professor Gerber and the team, indicate the major impacts of not having a birth certificate include; higher incarceration rates for driving offences and not being able to obtain a tax number and therefore having to pay the highest rate of tax.

Source: ABC Kimberley


Last updated: 5 June 2014
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