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Life Insurance Act 1905
- Parliament of Australia
First and foremost was the Life Assurance Companies Bill, which was enacted in November 1904 by the Member for Darling Downs, Earnest Littleton Groom, to govern the life assurance of under 10s. On 23 November 1905 the law obtained the royal approval. Private member's bill sheds good-need on an important part of Australian society past.
The Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia No. 1 states that in 1901 over 35 per cent of the Australian populace were under the age of 15. Toddlers and babies, however, account for more than 25 percent of all fatalities. Childbirth mortality (within the first year of life) was particularly high at 103.
Coupled with a declining birthrate over the past 30 years, this has been a major cause for worry among the general population, even among the nation's rulers, as it has been essential to fill the Australian "voids" as a bastion against the dreaded Northern infiltration. Australia's long-term decrease in fecundity in the second half of the nineteenth centuries reflected similar long-term decreases in other countries of the West.
The fear of the general audience increased strongly after an article about the falling birthrate of NSW was published in June 1903 by the state statistics expert T. A. Coghlan, which was extensively covered in the media, even under alarming news items like "Australia's Peril". The Royal Commission traced the decline in the birthrate to the "conscious and wilful prevention of reproduction" of those "eager to satisfy their egotistical aspirations and pursue progress".
As regards baby deaths, the Commission highlighted, among other things, the need for: better control of private hospital and birth centres; better nutrition, caring and hygiene of babies; mandatory education in community education for all young women over 13 years of age in baby nutrition and caring; treatment of diarrhoeal infarction and gastro-enteritis-compensable illnesses for foundlings and similar establishments; and better control of baby food for commerce.
Between 1901 and 1907 briefly on the plateau, the long-term decrease of Australia's fecundity persisted until 1984. There have been, however, significant and continuous increases in baby and adolescent deaths due to increases in levels of official sanitary and hygienic standards, improvement in mothers' wellbeing, diet and physical well-being, healthcare literacy and the introduction of large-scale immunization programmes.
The mortality rate for four-year-olds and younger, young and old, dropped by 95 percent in the course of the twentieth decade. North South Wales, Royal Commission on the Decline of the Birth Rate and on the Mortality of Infants in New South Wales, Band 1.