03.08.2017

Free birth certificates (for some) in NSW


Life is pretty tough in the modern world when you can’t prove your identity. It’s even tougher when you’re also in a vulnerable situation.

In recent weeks, as part of an annual undertaking, New South Wales government officials from the Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages in conjunction with Service NSW have been hosting community outreach events for those doing it tough. Those officials, like Chris, pictured left, have been in Kings Cross, Gosford, Newcastle, Tamworth and Fairfield taking applications for vital identity documents, and explaining support services such as accommodation and housing, health, education and life skills, and more.

In the last year of these outreach events, 2718 vulnerable people applied for birth certificates, which costs $53 for the standard certificate. That’s a high price when you’re homeless, just for the tools to get by in the community and when so many public services require proof of identity.

Today, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman announced an ongoing outreach program for disadvantaged communities, providing homeless and Aboriginal people with free birth certificates “to help get their lives back on track.”

“A birth certificate is vital to securing a job, housing, a driver’s licence, or a Centrelink benefit, so this program is literally changing lives. Some victims of domestic violence have also been given a free replacement birth certificate after fleeing their home without the document,” Speakman said in the announcement.

“There are many reasons why some vulnerable people have never had a birth certificate, from literacy and financial issues to a lack of awareness about the importance of being able to prove their identity.”

Children can also slip through government safety nets if their parents have not registered their birth. BDM outreach workers discovered 72 children whose births had not been registered in just one year of community visits.