Red Nose Day working towards saving little lives

Today is Red Nose Day, a day to remember loss and to spread the message to future mothers that the risk of stillbirth and neonatal death can be reduced.

While there has been a reduction in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in Australia, almost 3,000 young babies still die suddenly and unexpectedly each year.

Of 2,924 babies who died in the perinatal period in 2017, three quarters were stillborn. The others died within four weeks of birth.

Every death of a baby is a devastating event for the family. It can lead to ongoing personal, social and financial consequences for parents and families.

In some cases, stillbirth and neonatal death can be prevented. Last December, the Morrison Government announced that $3 million would be provided for a national awareness campaign to demystify stillbirth and reduce its incidence.

The campaign is expected to begin in late September 2020. It will educate women about the importance of three actions during their pregnancy, which can help their unborn babies:

  • being aware of fetal movements and reporting changes to their health professional;
  • sleeping on their sides; and
  • quitting smoking during pregnancy.

The campaign is being developed by Red Nose Limited and the University of Queensland’s Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence. They are working in partnership with Sands Australia, the Stillbirth Foundation, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The campaign will include elements targeted to groups of women with a higher risk of stillbirth, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, some migrant and refugee women, and women from rural and remote communities.

To support parents and families after the death of a baby or toddler, the Morrison Government also provides funding to Red Nose’s telephone and online support service.

The Red Nose Bereavement Support Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be accessed by contacting 1300 308 307.

The Government has also committed $43.9 million for a new Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program to support the mental health of expectant and new parents experiencing or at risk of perinatal mental illness or grieving the loss of a baby, and $1.3 million to Sands Australia for an intensive support service to families affected by stillbirth. The Sands service provides support in hospital that continues when the family returns home.

We continue to work with states and territories, medical, health professionals, and other stakeholders to finalise the first National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan.

The Plan is expected to be released in late 2020 and will provide a national strategic approach to reducing stillbirth in Australia, as well as ensure families affected by stillbirth receive respectful and supportive bereavement care.

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