The select committee was established to inquire and report on the future of stillbirth research and education in Australia, a particularly sensitive inquiry for committee members due to their own tragic experiences, as well as those recounted by submitters and witnesses in public hearings.
When tabling the committee’s report in December 2018, McCarthy remarked:
'We decided from the outset that this had to be a sacred journey, carrying our babies, remembering and honouring the spirits who have passed but also the spirits of our babies who are yet to come … I thank each and every Senate committee member for holding that, for holding those babies and holding the sacredness of this important report to the Australian parliament.'
Senator McCarthy is the third Indigenous person to chair a Senate committee. Her appointment came almost 50 years after Jagera man Neville Bonner (1976) and over 15 years after Aden Ridgeway (2001), a member of the Gumbayyngirr people. Kiga/Yawuru/Muran woman Nova Peris was the first female Indigenous parliamentarian, and served as a senator in 2013–16.
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Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator for the Northern Territory, tabling speech for the Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education report, 4 December 2018