Lisa Nielsen (left) accepts donations from Nicky Weber, Snjezana Robinson and Bronwyn Young.
Lisa Nielsen (left) accepts donations from Nicky Weber, Snjezana Robinson and Bronwyn Young.

Milk bank needs government funds

BUSINESS will continue to flow for the Mothers Milk Bank at Banora Point after generous monetary donations this week, but without government funding, the bank's future is not so bright.

Mothers Milk Bank co-director Lisa Nielson said donations of $10,000 from the AMP Foundation and $30,000 from the Gold Coast Children's Society were received this week.

Ms Nielson said the milk bank would like to put the money towards specialised equipment but without government funding it would go into operating costs and insurance. “Each milk donation must be tested twice, which costs $40 in pathology fees for each 120 millilitres of milk,” Ms Nielson said.

“We could charge mothers for the service to cover the fees when we can't but we thought that would be cruel so we stop the service,” she said.

Co-director Marea Ryan said the milk bank was promised funding by the Howard government before the 2007 federal election but funding priorities changed with the new government. Ms Ryan said Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon, speaking at the Australian Lactation Consultation Association Conference early last month, outlined the government could not fund every project and the Mothers Milk Bank was not a priority.

Ms Ryan said the milk bank was preparing a submission for the Medicare Benefits Schedule to cover the pathology fees. “Having to cover operating costs means the $40,000 will last about 10 months and no money can go towards buying equipment,” Ms Ryan said.

She said the milk bank would like to buy a milk analysis machine that provides a breakdown of what is in the milk at a cost of $35,000 and a barcode tracking system which costs $32,000 that automates the process of tracking bottles, rather than doing it by hand.

A spokesperson for Minister Roxon acknowledged the health benefits of breastfeeding but said “the Commonwealth does not have a role in funding human milk banks.” Ms Ryan said the milk bank was looking for private sponsorship to continue the service long-term. The Mothers Milk Bank provides pasteurised donor mothers' milk to infants whose mother's own milk is not available.



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