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Baby gloom in the bush

Kate EmeryMidwest Times
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The Mid West shire of Yalgoo did not account for one of the 33,211 babies born in WA last year.
Camera IconThe Mid West shire of Yalgoo did not account for one of the 33,211 babies born in WA last year. Credit: Anita Kirkbright, Midwest Times

As national fertility rates slide some of WA’s most remote towns are facing a baby drought, with no new bubs being born in one town for eight years.

The Mid West shires of Cue, Sandstone, Yalgoo and Murchison did not account for one of the 33,211 babies born in WA last year.

In Sandstone, where the residential population is just 81, there have been no babies born since 2010, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

And things are not much better in Wyalkatchem, Laverton or Westonia, where they only heard the pitter patter of three pairs of tiny feet in each.

In contrast, the fast-growing metropolitan cities of Wanneroo and Stirling collectively accounted for nearly 20 per cent of all births in WA.

Swan, Rockingham and Gosnells are also populated with plenty of procreators.

But they are not enough to stop the total number of births in the State sliding 3.6 per cent, compared to a 1.9 per cent increase nationwide.

However, WA’s fertility rate of 1.76 births per woman was slightly higher than the national rate of 1.74 — a record low for the country.

Sandstone shire president Beth Walton was “born and bred” in the town and said she raised her three children there in part because it was a “safe environment for kids”.

But she said since the local school closed a couple of years ago there were no children except for those visiting from surrounding areas or during tourist season.

“I do miss hearing the kids’ laughter,” Ms Walton said.

Things are very different in the City of Wanneroo, where there are more than enough little ones to make a big impression.

Chelsea McMahon, who lives with with her 19-month-old daughter Phoenix in Banksia Grove, said that there were “quite a few mothers” in the area, which she said was a tight-knit community.

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