Newsletter: June 2019

Welcome to the June newsletter. The Stillbirth CRE has had a very busy first few months of the year. In this edition, we are excited to highlight some of our key events and achievements.

We welcome all of your stories and research updates. For inclusion in our next Stillbirth CRE Newsletter, please contact us.


Federal Government Funding

Federal Government pledges $26m for parents on top of $7.2m for research and education

On 5 December 2018 the Minister for Health, The Honourable Greg Hunt, announced that the Liberal National Government would convene a national roundtable to address the rate of stillbirth in Australia, along with an initial commitment of $7.2 million for medical research and education programs. 

On 12 February this year, the Minister held the roundtable - a first of its kind to focus on what research and public education was needed to prevent stillbirth, as six Australian children are stillborn each day.

$26 million funding windfall was announced with the federal Government putting the money towards support and treatment services, to help reach parents doing it tough who might not be catered to what is currently available. This includes some new fathers and families grieving the loss of a child, from a range of cultural backgrounds.Promotion campaigns aimed at improving the mental health of new and soon-to-be parents will also be run through the funds. The funds will be distributed to organisations as grants from mid-2019.

"The program aims to fill gaps in services to ensure the right supports are in the right place, at the right time," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Some of the money will be used to help bereavement organisations ensure they have culturally-appropriate support and information for parents who have lost a child through stillbirth. Ensuring such support is available was recommended by a senate inquiry last year.


May News01 KK2

Kristina Keneally and Anika Wells pay a visit to the Stillbirth CRE

Leading up to the roundtable discussions, the Honourable Kristina Keneally made a visit to the Stillbirth CRE and Mater Research Institute. Kristina is a passionate advocate for stillbirth research and within weeks of walking through the doors of Federal parliament doors in February 2018, she established an inquiry into stillbirth research and education (what followed is detailed below). In May, 2019 Kristina  and Anika Wells (Labor's Member-elect for Lille)  revisited the Stillbirth CRE to discuss discuss the progress stillbirth research and education in Australia.


Senate Enquiry into Stillbirths
In early 2018 the Australian Senate put together a committee to inquire and report on the future of stillbirth research and education in Australia. Over 269 individuals and organisations made submissions, and public hearings were held in Canberra, Brisbane, Katherine, Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne.

The committee's report was tabled on Tuesday 4th December 2018 and can be read at the Inquiry web page.



May Campaigs movematter

My Baby's Movements (MBM) Campaign into Stage Two

We are excited to announce that the MBM trial has now concluded!
The trial was a huge success and we wish to thank all 26 sites that were involved for their hard work.

A special mention to our three top performing hospitals – Sunshine Hospital (VIC), Ipswich Hospital (QLD) and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (QLD).
Great work teams!

We are looking forward to the next stage of data analysis that will assess the impact of increased efforts in awareness and clinical management of decreased fetal movements (DFM) across Australian and New Zealand maternity services.



May Campaigs BB

Safe Baby Bundle (SBB) Project gains momentum

In case you didn’t hear the news, and because we are so excited, we are pleased to officially announce the success of the NHMRC Partnership Projects grant for the Safe Baby Bundle (SBB). Since the announcement in late January, work related to the SBB has been moving at a rapid pace. Working with the Health Departments in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and in partnership with the Stillbirth Foundation Australia and Still Aware we aim to commence implementing the SBB by mid-2019. The planning process for implementation is well underway, with the health departments of NSW, VIC and QLD all undertaking scoping meetings with key jurisdictional stakeholders and clinicians. We are working towards launching the Safe Baby Bundle at the CRE Annual National Forum in August. It is hoped that the SBB will become a nationally supported program to reduce stillbirth rates in Australia.

SBB Workshop: In March we held a pre-PSANZ Congress workshop in partnership with the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance. The workshop, held at the Sofitel on the Gold Coast, covered best practice priorities in stillbirth and preterm birth prevention. The purpose of the one-day collaborative meeting was to provide parents, advocates, maternity care providers, health policy makers and researchers with an opportunity to continue to contribute to the Safe Baby Bundle project. 80 attendees from numerous organisations across the country gave their time and resources to attend and contribute. 

Meeting participants had the opportunity to consider two elements of the SBB in detail through presentations and roundtable discussions. The morning session focused on implementation strategies to support improving antenatal care around smoking cessation. Speakers talked to the latest smoking cessation initiatives both nationally and internationally, in particular carbon monoxide monitoring. Additionally, there were presentations and debate regarding culturally appropriate approaches to providing smoking cessation support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families. The focus for the afternoon session was optimising timing of birth and informed decision making. Challenges regarding balancing the risk of stillbirth versus the risks of earlier birth were discussed. We explored how clinicians can better support informed decision making around timing of birth, identifying existing and future planned clinical shared decision making tools. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all attendees for bringing their expertise and experience to the table and engaging in such constructive and open exchanges throughout day.



eLearning update: Decreased Fetal Movements

The Decreased Fetal Movement (DFM) eLearning guide has now been accredited by both ACM and ACRRM, with 0.5 CPD points allocated from both agencies. These CPD points now appear on the DFM eLearning guide completion certificate. The guide can be found here.

eLearning update: Fetal Growth Restriction

The eLearning update for Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR) is now live and available for you use via this linkThank you to Safer Care Victoria for kindly providing the funding for the completion of this project.

IMPROVE Workshop Dates – managing perinatal death

Exciting news! The IMPROVE (Improving Perinatal Mortality Review Outcomes Via Education) workshops dates are now available for the rest of 2019.

The benefits of these workshops are to ensure that you and your staff become well educated in managing perinatal death. The newly updated workshop is based on the 2018 Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand’s Clinical Practice Guideline for Care Around Stillbirth and Neonatal Death.  The dates and venues are listed below:

Mater Mothers Hospital, 28th June 2019
Ipswich Hospital, 12th July 2019
Gold Coast University Hospital, September 2019

We strongly recommend health services offer the IMPROVE workshop to staff every two years to ensure up to date knowledge and practice surrounding perinatal death is maintained. For further information or to take advantage of the QLD Hospitals discount rate (50% OFF), please contact us or visit the website.

Bereavement Care Guidelines Update

The newly updated Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand/Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence guideline for perinatal bereavement care has now been released. The Guideline for Respectful and Supportive Perinatal Bereavement Care provides clear guidance for maternity health care providers and their services to support the provision of care that meets the needs of bereaved parents. The Guideline reflects best available research, parents’ lived experiences and maternity care providers’ insights. The Guideline contains 49 recommendations that reflect five fundamental goals of care: good communication; shared decision-making; recognition of parenthood; effective support; and organisational response. Please click here to view the updated Guideline. 

PSANZ Clinical Practice Guidelines Update

A number of updates have been made to Appendix J of the PSANZ Clinical Practice Guideline for Care Around Stillbirth and Neonatal Death. Updates include amendments to classification numbering under 5.3 Maternal injury.  Version 1.2 is now available through the Stillbirth CRE and PSANZ websites



Research Priority Area Two - Developing new approaches for identifying women at increased risk of stillbirth

Update by Professor Vicki Clifton

Stillbirth is frequently the result of pathological processes involving the placenta. Markers of placental function and health can often be identified and measured in the maternal circulation and this offers a great opportunity to identify women at risk of stillbirth using biomarkers reflecting defective placentation and function. Early identification of at risk pregnancies can then allow clinicians to either increase fetal monitoring or plan an early birth to protect the fetus from death. One major issue in the discovery of placental biomarkers for stillbirth is that most stillbirth placentae are often not viable for use in research studies. The placenta and baby are not always delivered at the time of death but some days after death resulting in tissue degradation before collection. Furthermore, stillbirth placentae that are archived in Pathology Services are not always accessible for research due to legislative restrictions. However, it is feasible to examine prospectively collected blood samples from mothers who have consented to be involved in birth cohort studies and who subsequently experience a stillbirth. These samples could be used for the validation of data generated on placental biomarkers. Researchers need to have access to samples from multiple birth cohorts across Australia to obtain enough numbers of stillbirth samples for valid conclusions. The best approach to address this issue is a National birth cohort registry and biobank. 

The main approach for the discovery of biomarkers of placental compromise will be from placentae of pregnancies that may be a near miss for a stillbirth or associated with a serious complication. These complicated pregnancies can include but are not limited to fetal growth restriction, severe pre-eclampsia, severe chronic maternal disease, placental abruption, preterm labour, fetuses associated with hypoxic events at birth, stillbirths and neonatal deaths. To collect these placentae at one site would take many years to accrue sufficient numbers to make valid conclusions and would limit the capacity to rapidly translate findings into practice. However, a national approach with many research teams and sites involved in the project would increase the capacity for effective outcomes in this area. The establishment of a national biobank of samples and data is therefore essential to progress research to reduce the numbers of stillbirths in Australia. As part of the Stillbirth CRE, Professor Vicki Clifton has lead the establishment of a consortium of placental researchers from around Australia and partnered with ANZPRA to promote the initiative. Members of the consortium are committed to contributing to the joint initiative for the identification of placental biomarkers that determine risk of stillbirth. By sharing data and samples from both complicated and uncomplicated pregnancy cohort studies, it is possible to rapidly generate placental data for the identification of biomarkers. The consortium consists of teams from Brisbane, Gold Coast, Townsville, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth who each have a variety of technological skills and samples that could be used for generating new knowledge about stillbirth as well as animal models for testing causality from the observations made in human samples.

This consortium has had monthly meetings to discuss approaches to address the major issue of identifying pregnancies at risk of stillbirth throughout 2018 and 2019. To date they have established collaborations between teams to investigate specific research questions, examined ethics and governance issues related to the sharing of samples, and developed a RedCap database for researchers to share de-identified meta-data about the biological samples from their cohorts. More recently the consortium has designed a small project examining placental biomarkers in pregnancies complicated by a small for gestational age (SGA) fetus. Teams with placental samples from SGA pregnancies are planning to send their samples to Brisbane and gene biomarkers will be examined. In the coming months data generated from this work will be reported to the Stillbirth CRE with final data published by the end of the year. This work will start to consolidate the collaboration between Placental group members and identify potential targets that may be used for detecting babies. We hope this work will lead to future funding opportunities for the team.



2019 CRE Annual National Stillbirth Forum

Event 1 wide

Thursday and Friday, 8-9 August 2019 • Hotel Grand Chancellor, Brisbane

Click here for more information

Please join us for the 2019 Annual National Stillbirth Forum to reflect on progress and discuss planned initiatives in Australia and New Zealand. Parents, advocates, care providers, and researchers all welcome to share the latest research and promote collaboration.

The first day, Thursday, is a plenary session involving speakers giving updates on the stillbirth research across Australia and internationally.

The second day, Friday, will involve concurrent Research Development Workshops based around the Safe Baby Bundle, Research Program Developments and a National Public Awareness Campaign.  

This year's Forum will take place over two days, and attendees can choose to attend both days or single days.

A draft programme will be available shortly.


ISA Annual Conference 2019

Event 2 wide

4 - 6 October • Madrid, Spain

Registrations close on the 14th June, 2019.

After receiving an astonishing 228 abstracts for this year’s conference we recommend you register as soon as possible. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the leading healthcare professionals, parent experts and researchers on perinatal bereavement care and mortality prevention such as Professor Alexander Heazell, Dr Jane Warland, Sue Steen, Dr Denise Côtè Arsenault, Dr Francesc Figueras, Dr Marta Cohen, Dr Robert Silver, Jillian Cassidy,  Professor Vicki Flenady, Dr Sonia Pastor Montero, Dr Gordon Smith, Dr Jap Jaap Erwich, Professor Ingela Radestad and Dr Katherine Gold.

For those of you who cannot come to Madrid you have the option to attend the conference online via streaming, with fantastic discounts for low and middle income countries

If you have already registered please help us promote the conference and share the link below with your colleagues and friends.

Don’t miss out and register today at 


DOHaD World Congress 2019

Event 3 wide

20 - 23 October • Melbourne, Victoria

The Congress theme is investing in a Healthy Future for All: Research, Education, Policy. The Congress will bring together basic and clinical researchers and health care professionals from around the world to address the many challenges that currently impact the health of mothers and fathers, babies in the womb, infants, children and adolescents as well as explore solutions, interventions and policies to optimise health across the lifespan. Registration and call for abstracts are now open. Find more information here.


ISA/ISPID International Annual Conference 2020

Event 4 wide

22 - 24 October • Brisbane, QLD 

The major theme of the conference is Drivers for Global Change. Our aim is to showcase strategies to effectively address the burden of stillbirth, neonatal death and SUDI across high, middle and low-income country settings.
The ISA/ISPID 2020 conference provides a unique opportunity for parents, parent advocates, health care professionals, researchers, professional colleges, and policy makers to come together, with the aim of reducing stillbirth, and infant death by improving care and outcomes for families who suffer this tragic loss.
We hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you in our wonderful city and that you enjoy all that Brisbane has to offer.



Several job opportunities at Red Nose for Educators

Several positions have become available at Red Nose. The positions are for Red Nose Educators in the Education Services team. These positions are located in Mt Gravatt, Queensland and around Australia.

The Red Nose Educator reports to the Manager, Health and Advocacy. As part of the Red Nose Education Services team the primary focus of this position is to deliver the Red Nose messages to a broad range of audiences. This will include delivering educational presentations aligned with Red Nose’s evidence-based education around reducing the risk of sudden unexpected death of infants (SUDI). The Red Nose Educator will be required to present Red Nose educational material to groups such as early childhood educators, health professionals, parents, etc. and support other Red Nose activities such as Exhibitions and Red Nose Day activities with the aim of driving the Red Nose messages to as many people as possible. Travel may be required of this position. View the Position Description 

If you have any questions about this position, please contact: 
Fairlie Tucker, Education Development Manager on 03 9034 1277 or 0410 483 950

AA 2

Congratulations to Aleena Wojcieszek who submitted her thesis in March, after three and a half years of hard work. Her thesis, entitled Care in Pregnancies After Stillbirth: Generating Evidence to inform Clinical Practiceinforms clinical practice for care during subsequent pregnancies following stillbirth. Aleena is an Associate Investigator on the Stillbirth CRE and Early Career Researcher (ECR) lead for its Care After Stillbirth program.

AA 3

Congratulations to Lisa Daley who submitted her thesis entitled Decreased Fetal Movement  (DFM) and Mobile Application Interventions During Pregnancy. Lisa's thesis assesses the effect of apps on healthcare-seeking behaviour and perinatal health outcomes by investigating 1) the association of DFM and adverse perinatal health outcomes; 2) DFM content available via health apps and 3) the association of perinatal app use with perinatal health outcomes. 


Become a member of the International Stillbirth Alliance today!

For the first time in ISA’s history, we have opened membership to both organisations and individuals. Membership includes a very modest fee which will help expand our ability to advocate for stillbirth and perinatal death prevention and respectful bereavement care globally. Most of our current funds (which are minimal) support the annual ISA conference, particularly to help parents and scholars from low-income countries who might otherwise not be able to attend.  With additional income we will be able to support more attendees, provide increased global education and training, particularly in countries with limited resources, raise awareness of the burden of stillbirth and perinatal death, and promote strategies which can reduce preventable stillbirths.  

ISA is a non-profit run entirely by volunteers, including bereaved parents, researchers and clinicians and we are delighted to open membership in ISA to nonprofits and individuals around the world. We are so grateful for your interest in stillbirth and neonatal death prevention and for your support for ISA.  For more information click here.