The Federal Government's $3000 baby bonus has helped to reverse the nation's declining birth rate, with new statistics revealing an increase for the first time in a decade. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the number of babies per woman rose to 1.77 last year, breaking a forty year decline, it was reported. The birth rate is the highest it has reached in seven years and is the first time it has increased significantly since 1961 when it peaked at 3.55. The Howard Government's $3000 baby bonus for every baby born in 2004 played a significant role in halting the nation's declining fertility rate, the Australian National University's head of demography, professor Peter McDonald said. Prof McDonald predicted the fertility rate would rise to 1.8 in 2005 as the baby bonus starts having an effect. The bonus will increase to $4000 from July 1 this year.