Newsletter: December 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, we would like to acknowledge that the holiday season can be difficult for anyone who has experienced a stillbirth. Our thoughts are with all families missing their much-loved babies at this time.

We would also like to thank our collaborators, partners, and families for their ongoing support throughout the year. We look forward to returning in 2020 and building on our fantastic achievements from 2019.


May Campaigs BB

Stillbirth CRE receives an additional $1.5 million in funding from the Federal Health Minister for education and awareness campaign

The final Stillbirth CRE Newsletter of the year is a big one, with the momentum around stillbirth prevention well and truly gathering pace. The Federal Government, with the bipartisan support of the Opposition, continues to honour its commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee’s report into Stillbirth Research and Education, and funding important initiatives, which aim to change perinatal outcomes and spare hundreds of families a year from the anguish of losing a much-loved baby.

Last week, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed the Stillbirth CRE would receive an additional $1.5 million in funding to implement an education and awareness campaign to educate families about stillbirth prevention.

As part of the funding, the Stillbirth CRE will develop culturally appropriate resources for women at the highest risk of stillbirth in Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and women from migrant and refugee communities.

The new funding commitment from the Government will also enable the Stillbirth CRE to work with Red Nose Australia to drive public awareness about reducing stillbirth. Not every stillbirth is preventable, but the research tells us up to 30 per cent of late gestation stillbirths can be avoided with improved maternity care. By improving the quality of information pregnant women receive, we know that lives can be saved.



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Stillbirth Roundtable

The Stillbirth CRE continues to participate in the National Stillbirth Roundtables, facilitated by the Federal government. These productive roundtable meetings provide an opportunity for a wide array of stakeholders across government departments, health care agencies, peak bodies, research institutes, and support services, to work collaboratively to develop the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan. This plan is our blueprint toward a future where Australia’s rate of stillbirth is significantly lower.

We continue to appreciate the time and genuine engagement of Health Minister Greg Hunt, and Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen, in these roundtable sessions. At the December roundtable meeting, we welcomed Minister Hunt’s continued support of the Safer Baby Bundle initiative and his commitment to taking this framework forward to deliver more parent education and clinician support.

To stay up-to-date on the progress of the Stillbirth National Action Plan, check our website here.



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Improving Perinatal Mortality Review and Outcomes Via Education (IMPROVE)

To complement the work of the Safer Baby Bundle, the IMPROVE (Improving Perinatal Mortality Review and Outcomes Via Education) eLearning module will also be available to clinicians from early 2020. IMPROVE will provide best-practice guidelines for clinicians to follow when a stillbirth or neonatal death occurs. IMPROVE has been developed to give everyone working in maternity care the skills they need to provide bereaved parents with the best possible care.

This important new resource will ultimately help prevent future stillbirths by improving the data we collect. Data collection is crucial to prevention, and these new learning resources will improve the quality of data on causes of stillbirth and neonatal deaths through appropriate investigation, audit, and classification.

Face to face IMPROVE workshops are also available - to view the schedule of current workshops or to book a workshop at your hospital, click here.



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Safer Baby Bundle (SBB)

The Safer Baby Bundle is an initiative developed to cut the rate of stillbirth after 28 weeks’ gestation by 20 per cent over the next three years by improving the maternity care women across the country receive.

2020 will be a significant year for the implementation of the Safer Baby Bundle initiative. New South Wales and Queensland will officially launch the initiative in their states early in the new year, while Victoria’s Safer Baby Collaborative continues to make strong strides. We are also very excited about additional jurisdictions joining this important partnership to tackle Australia’s unacceptably high rate of stillbirth.

More than 1100 clinicians across the country have accessed the Safer Baby Bundle eLearning resources to date, and the feedback gathered on these interactive modules so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

View our SBB resources here.



2020 PhD top up scholarship round now open

Applications for the 2020 PhD top up scholarship round are now open. The Stillbirth CRE offers generous top-up scholarships worth up to $9000 for eligible PhD candidates. These top up scholarships are designed to support exceptional PhD candidates whose projects align with the CREs priority areas and make a meaningful contribution to the CREs program of work.

Learn more here.

Senior Research Assistant Position available with Stillbirth CRE

The Stillbirth CRE is currently recruiting a full-time, talented Senior Research Assistant to provide high level research support to the Centre for a period of 12 months. This role includes project and data management and assisting the project Chief Investigators with study development and design.

Read more here.



My Baby's Movements (MBM)

2019 has been a busy year for the MBM trial, with recruitment finalised at all sites in May. Final data have been provided by hospitals and we are busy analysing the results for presentation at PSANZ 2020 in Sydney. The MBM protocol was published earlier this year in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth and includes the project's statistical analysis plan. View the protocol here.

Please remember that there are many PhD opportunities available with the MBM trial- for further information please contact us at

We would like to again thank all sites involved for their work and commitment to the trial over the past three years. We look forward to sharing the results of the trial with all in 2020!


Bereavement Support Program

In December, the Stillbirth CRE held its inaugural Expert Advisory Group meeting for the development of our new Online Bereavement Support Program for parents after perinatal loss. This program aims to provide parents and healthcare professionals with an easily accessible and evidence-based option for bereavement education and early mental health support. It is intended to support parents to cope with the devastating experience of losing their baby, and to develop skills and strategies to improve emotional wellbeing and build resilience over the long-term. We are very excited to co-design this program with such a wide range of experts, healthcare professionals, and parents.


Safer Baby Bundle (SBB)– a baseline survey of clinicians across Australia

To evaluate attitudes, knowledge and current practices around the SBB prior to launching the eLearning resources, midwives and doctors across Australia were invited to complete an anonymous online survey. From mid-September to mid-November we received 174 completed responses. The findings of this survey will assist in evaluating the impact of the SBB and will be presented at PSANZ 2020 in Sydney. We would like to thank all clinicians who took the time to complete the survey and our partners, Australian College of Midwives and Women’s Healthcare Australia, for their assistance with disseminating the survey invitation.


More Research Updates

  • Congratulations to Stillbirth CRE researchers Associate Professor Philippa Middleton, Professor Vicki Flenady, Associate Professor Alice Rumbold and Ms Paula Medway for receiving the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Research Translation award in December this year.

  • Ms. Jui Das has joined the Stillbirth CRE as a PhD student and will be undertaking a large retrospective cohort study examining pregnancy outcomes among asthmatic women in Australia and a systematic review of asthma during pregnancy. Her advisory team includes Prof Vicki Flenady (Principlal), Prof Vicki Clifton, and Dr Michael Coory.

  • Read Dr Aleena Wojcieszek and Ms Susannah Hopkins Leisher's recent piece for the ‘Evidently Cochrane’ blog and its special blog series on ‘Maternity Matters’ here. The piece focuses on subsequent pregnancy following stillbirth; the experience of parents and the evidence gaps.

  • Investigating causes of stillbirth study: Analyses of study results are ongoing and submission of an initial manuscript is underway. Next year, we expect to see an expert panel convene to review cases and further development of research outputs on yield of investigations and classification of causes of stillbirth.

  • The Stillbirth CRE is currently developing a parent version of the PSANZ/Stillbirth CRE Clinical Practice Guideline for Respectful and Supportive Perinatal Bereavement Care. Phase 1 of this project was funded by Stillbirth Foundation Australia, and has focused on a prototype of the guideline. This process has involved consultation with parents, clinicians and other stakeholders and a review and ‘translation’ of the 49 clinical guideline recommendations into a form designed to be accessible, understandable and useful for parents. The need for this guideline responds to evidence that parents often report not receiving adequate information and that they only became aware of options when it was too late. These missed opportunities may be a source of later regret. This parent guideline aims to aid in shared decision making, direct parents to appropriate services and materials, and provides access to best practice evidence about their care.



PSANZ Annual Congress 2020

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 5-8th April 2020 • Sydney, NSW (Pre-congress event 3rd April)

The PSANZ annual congress 2020 will be held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Darling Harbour, in Sydney. The congress aims to broaden perspectives of perinatology; stimulate research activity; present scientifically rigorous and valid new information and provide a forum for debate. This year the Stillbirth CRE will host a symposium during the main congress titled: Together we can reduce disparity in stillbirths.

On Friday 3rd April, the Stillbirth CRE, SANDA, and the Australian Preterm Birth Alliance will also partner to host an all-day pre-congress workshop titled: Getting Birthdays Right; A Workshop to Improve Communication about Stillbirth Risk and Timing of Birth. The morning session will feature a pilot of the face-to-face Safer Baby Bundle education program. The afternoon session will focus on element five of the Safer Baby Bundle program – Timing of Birth. A program will be circulated in early 2020.

On Saturday 4th April there will be an IMPACT meeting titled: Clinical trials, overcoming the challenges of implementing findings into practice.

Registrations for all events are now open.



2020 CRE Annual National Stillbirth Forum

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 9-10th July 2020 • Melbourne, VIC

We have now set the date for the 2020 Annual National Stillbirth Forum which will be held in Melbourne from 9-10th July. We would encourage everyone invested in reducing stillbirth in Australia, everyone interested in hearing about the latest in stillbirth research, and everyone involved in the rollout of the Safer Baby Bundle initiative, to attend this major event. In 2020 we will be devoting an entire day of the Forum to the Safer Baby Bundle initiative. The forum will provide a unique opportunity for all the jurisdictions involved in the rollout to share their successes and their learnings.


Australasian Perinatal Loss Conference 2020

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1–3rd October • Launceston, TAS

This conference, held from 1st – 3rd October 2020, will unite multidisciplinary professionals involved in the care of families affected by pregnancy and neonatal loss. The aim of the conference is to provide education, professional development and networking opportunities to strengthen collaborative care among service providers. More details and a program will be released in early 2020.


ISA/ISPID International Annual Conference 2020

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22–24th October • Brisbane, QLD 

The 2020 ISA-ISPID Conference will be held in Brisbane at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, between 22-24th October. This significant conference will cover global updates in Stillbirth, Neonatal death, and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). The conference theme will be Driving Change, and it will provide an opportunity for researchers and practitioners from all country settings to showcase strategies that are making a difference. Abstract submissions are now open, please visit the ISA/ISPID 2020 website for more information.


Advancing the Evidence: Migrant Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference

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27-28th February 2020 • Melbourne, VIC

The Migrant Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference will be held in Melbourne on 27-28th February 2020. The Multicultural Centre for Women's Health invites clinicians, advocates, researchers and the public to attend the conference, which will examine issues including health equity issues, new research into migrant women’s health, and social and systemic factors impacting health. For more information, or to register, click here.






  • Safer Baby Bundle resources developed and released, Oct 2019
  • New funding announced for an education and awareness campaign on stillbirth, Dec 2019
  • Inaugural Annual National Stillbirth Forum held in Brisbane, August 2019
  • Work has started on a new National Stillbirth Action Plan, involving consumers, government, researchers, and clinicians
  • CRE announced as the host of the International Stillbirth Alliance Forum for 2020 - so another big year ahead!