Joel Cooke and Pru Hein with son Taylor (Image: Provided)

Thanks to Australia’s bungled vaccine rollout and the mutating COVID-19 virus, international travel remains a long way off. One group this is causing strife for is prospective parents.

Discouraged by the high costs of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and long waitlists for donor eggs in Australia, many Australians found getting treatment abroad was a more viable option. Now, hundreds of would-be parents can’t access their embryos stored in other countries, and can’t legally import them. Some families are campaigning for an end to the import ban and for early access to vaccinations for families-to-be.

Time is of the essence: the average age of mothers -- both those starting families and those who have previously given birth -- has been rising for some time as many parents choose to start families later in life. A 2018 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found that the highest percentage of women giving birth were aged between 30 and 34. The pandemic, coupled with the recession and lockdowns putting a strain on relationships is likely to further lower Australia’s 2019 birth rate of 1.66 births per woman. One in 25 Australian babies are now born via IVF.