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March 2021 Newsletter

29 Mar, 2021

Welcome to the first newsletter for 2021! It's already the end of March, which means some of the biggest forums and events of the year are just around the corner. It's also been one year since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Even as the vaccine roll-out begins in Australia, the Stillbirth CRE recognises that pregnant women and their families may continue to have concerns about COVID-19. We encourage maternity healthcare professionals to continue to promote important messages around safe pregnancies and stillbirth prevention, and for everyone to continue to follow the latest government health advice.


Still Six Lives Campaign

Following on from the successful launch of the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan in December, stillbirth prevention continues to be in the spotlight in 2021 with the launch of a national public awareness campaign.

The “Still Six Lives” campaign is an initiative of Red Nose Australia, in partnership with Sands, Stillbirth Foundation Australia and the Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth. The campaign will run until August, with messages appearing on television, online video, digital advertising, social media, radio, and other formats. To support these stillbirth awareness and prevention messages, we’re asking all maternity healthcare providers to access the latest evidence-based resources by completing the Safer Baby Bundle eLearning. You can also encourage pregnant women and their families to learn more about ways to reduce the risk of stillbirth on the Safer Baby website, or visit the campaign’s website,, to learn more.

If you or a loved one has experienced perinatal loss, the campaign may trigger a strong emotional response. If you need support, contact the following organisations:

Red Nose 24/7 support: 1300 308 307 or visit

SANDS 24/7 support: 1300 072 637 or visit

Bears of Hope: 1300 11 HOPE or visit

Safer Baby Bundle eLearning Videos

Have you viewed the latest videos of support for the Safer Baby Bundle eLearning program from our community? Discover why obstetricians, midwives, researchers, parents, and Aboriginal health workers are among our supporters who encourage all maternity health providers to complete the free Safer Baby Bundle eLearning modules to improve pregnancy care and awareness about stillbirth prevention in Australia. View all the videos here, or watch Dr Vijay Roach, president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist (RANZCOG), explain why he advocates for the Safer Baby Bundle and National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan in the clip above.

COCOON Global Study

The Stillbirth CRE launched the COCOON global study in 2020 to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted maternity and bereavement care services worldwide.

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold worldwide, the study has continued into early 2021. Before we close the Australian survey, we’d like to again invite parents who have experienced stillbirth or the death of a newborn to share their experiences of care and bereavement support to help us better understand how the pandemic has affected bereavement services for families.

Your response will play a valuable role in helping to improve future care and bereavement support for families worldwide. Please share this study widely with family, friends, colleagues, and patients.


Latest Resources + Events

Save the Date: National Safer Baby Bundle Virtual Forum

Please save the date for the upcoming National Safer Baby Bundle Virtual Forum, which will be held over two half days: 

Thursday 17 June (1pm-5pm AEST) and Friday 18 June (9am-1pm AEST)

This virtual event will be devoted to discussing the national rollout of the Safer Baby Bundle initiative and is an opportunity for jurisdictions across Australia to come together to share learnings and promote collaboration. Further information will be available in the coming month, but please feel free to contact with any questions in the meantime.

Gold Coast Health Safer Baby Bundle Launch

Gold Coast Health is the latest health service in Australia to join the national Safer Baby Bundle to help raise awareness about reducing the risks of preventable stillbirth.

Project Lead Tionie Newth and the team launched the Safer Baby Bundle initiative across the health service last week. Well done to everyone involved!

ANZJOG Paper: Making Every Birth Count

A new study published in The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has found that a high proportion of late gestation perinatal deaths are associated with contributing factors relating to care, highlighting the need to improve antenatal care for women with risk factors for stillbirth and perinatal mortality audit.

Stillbirth CRE co-directors Professor Vicki Flenady and Professor David Ellwood are senior authors on the paper, titled Making every birth count: Outcomes of a perinatal mortality audit program.

New Birth Paper

A new paper published in Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care highlights how bereavement care practices differ markedly across countries. Stillbirth CRE principal investigators Associate Professor Dell Horey and Associate Professor Fran Boyle are lead authors on the paper, together with Professor Vicki Flenady and other international collaborators. The research found there are significant differences in the prevalence of offering nine bereavement care practices that are known to be important to many bereaved parents. Differences exist across high‐income countries (HICs), as well as between  HICs and middle‐income countries (MICs). The paper, titled Parents’ experiences of care offered after stillbirth: An international online survey of high and middle‐income countries,  is now available online

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Statistics

The latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnancy care in Australia. The report, “Antenatal care during COVID-19, 2020” summarises an analysis of antenatal care claims processed by Medicare from January to September 2020 in Australia and showed that face-to-face antenatal services dropped by 120,000, or about 10%, in the first three quarters of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. 

Although telehealth services replaced many face-to-face appointments, the data showed a 2% gap in service reduction. Stillbirth CRE encourages pregnant women to continue to attend antenatal appointments in whatever format is available, and calls on maternity healthcare professionals to ensure quality antenatal care and support for women continues during lockdowns and future restrictions.

PSANZ Virtual Congress 2021

The annual PSANZ Virtual Congress will be held this week from 29-31 March. With the theme “Bridging Gaps in Perinatal Care,” the Stillbirth CRE is proud to be running two events this year.

Today, Monday 29 March at 4pm AEDT, we will host a symposium event titled Together We Can Reduce Disparity in Stillbirths. On Tuesday 30 March at 7am AEDT, we will host a breakfast session on titled Every Baby Counts: Perinatal Mortality is a Key Step in Prevention. We encourage you to attend to hear from a wide range of speakers on these topics.

We are also proud to have Stillbirth CRE researchers, collaborators and students presenting in plenary sessions, oral presentations, and posters. Download the full program or view the list below.

Presentation typeTitleAuthorDateTime (AEDT)
OralCo-development of an online perinatal bereavement support program to improve psychosocial wellbeing following perinatal loss: Insights from bereaved parents and healthcare providers in Australia.Sara Crocker, Ann LancasterMarch 2911:00 am - 12:45 pm
KeynoteMy Baby’s Movements Trial: Fetal movement awareness intervention to reduce stillbirthsVicki FlenadyMarch 291:30pm
OralThe Safer Baby Bundle: Pre- implementation surveys of women and maternity cliniciansChristine AndrewsMarch 29  2pm-3:45pm
OralImproving Practice in Stillbirth Prevention; 5 New PSANZ/Stillbirth CRE Position Statements and GuidelinesChristine AndrewsMarch 292pm-3:45pm
CRE Symposium SessionTogether We Can Reduce Disparity in StillbirthsVariousMarch 294pm-5:30pm
Stillbirth CRE/SANDA Breakfast SessionEvery Baby Counts: Perinatal Mortality Audit is a Key Step in PreventionVariousMarch 307am-8am
OralThe Safer Baby Bundle: Evaluation of User Experience of an eLearning Education ModuleChristine AndrewsMarch 3012:45pm
OralMy Baby’s Movements: Maternal Delay in Presentations to Care for Concerns About Decreased Fetal Movements.Kara WarrilowMarch 3012:45pm-2:30pm
Plenary SessionPregnancy in a Pandemic – the COCOON Study.Vicki Flenady and Rupesh GautamMarch 318:15am – 10:15am
OralProspective Trial of Feasibility and Accuracy of Umbilical Cord Blood Sampling in a Tertiary Maternity HospitalPoliana de Barros MedeirosMarch 3111:00am - 12:45pm


Title: The Safer Baby Bundle: Protocol for Implementing and Evaluating a Bundle of Care to Reduce Stillbirths in Australia

Primary Author Christine Andrews

Title: Investigating the Yield of investigations in Stillbirths in Australia – A Pilot Analysis.

Presenter: Tania Marsden

Title: A Systematic Review on the Yield of Investigations in Stillbirths.

Presenter: Tania Marsden

Title: Understanding the Neonatal Near Miss Cohort in a High-Income Setting: A Delphi Study Protocol
Presenter: Poliana de Barros Medeiros

Title: Neonatal Near Miss Audit and Reviews for Reducing Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality: A Systematic Review Protocol
Presenter: Poliana de Barros Medeiros

Title: A Prospective Audit to Evaluate Risk Assessment for Early Neonatal Sepsis in a Tertiary Australian Hospital
Presenter: Poliana de Barros Medeiros

QLD Women's Health Forum

Abstracts and early bird registrations are now open for the Queensland Women’s Health Forum, running from 27 to 28 May. Clinical researchers, academic researchers, and mid- and early-career researchers working in the field of women’s health are invited to join the forum to share their knowledge and help articulate the major gaps in knowledge in women’s health research in Queensland. Rural and regional colleagues, as well as Indigenous health researchers, are strongly encouraged to submit abstracts and share their experiences. There will also be poster sessions for everyone to share their work and network during the breaks. Find out more at

ACM QLD and NSW Conferences

The Australian College of Midwives will hold their annual two-day QLD conference from 6-7 May in Toowong, Brisbane. The title of this year’s conference is Midwives: Now and into the Future. In addition, the ACM will also host their NSW conference from 28-29 May in Kingscliff. The conference title is Shining the Light on Midwifery and keynote speakers include Pat Brodie, Hazel Keele and Allison Cummins. Further details about programming and registration about both events will be available on the ACM website in the coming weeks, visit information.

PhD Research Updates

Announcing the 2021 PhD Scholarship Top-Up Recipients

Congratulations to the successful recipients of the Stillbirth CRE 2021 PhD Top-up Scholarships. These scholarships are designed to support exceptional PhD candidates whose projects align with the Stillbirth CRE's mission. The following four applicants have been awarded full scholarships of $9,000 each:

  • Poliana Medeiros: Mater Research, Perinatal mortality audit and classification to drive practice change in perinatal death and "neonatal near miss"
  • Alyce Wilson: Burnet Institute, Quality Pregnancy, Childbirth and Newborn Health Services in Papua New Guinea
  • Natasha Pritchard: University of Melbourne, Identifying which fetal growth charts and birthweight centiles are best able to identify babies and mothers at risk of adverse obstetric and perinatal outcomes.
  • Esti de Graaff: University of Auckland, Identification of risk-factors and causal pathways associated with adverse perinatal outcome in New Zealand, with a focus on Indian women

 In addition, one applicant in their final year was awarded a part-scholarship of $4,500:

  • Jessica O'Callaghan: Queensland University of Technology, Investigating placental genes in small for gestational age infants

We look forward to following your progress over the next year as work to improve outcomes for families in the future.

Parent Guidelines Thesis

Congratulations to Aleksandra Olekalns, who has completed her thesis as part of her Master of Psychology (Health) degree with the Stillbirth CRE and ISSR. Dr Julie Dean and Associate Professor Fran Boyle from the University of Queensland supervised this project, titled Developing a parent version of a guideline for respectful and supportive perinatal bereavement care. Ally’s work drew on some of the data collected through interviews and focus groups with parents for the Parent Guideline project, which will help to shape a parent version of the Stillbirth CRE/PSANZ Clinical Practice Guidelines for Respectful and Supportive Perinatal Bereavement Care to be released later this year.

In the Media

Antenatal Care Risks: The Health Report on ABC Radio National

Stillbirth CRE director Vicki Flenady was a guest on a recent episode of ABC Radio National’s The Health Report to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on antenatal services. The interview focused on a recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which found a decrease in face-to-face antenatal services during the pandemic, and whether this could impact pregnancy outcomes. Listen to the full interview online.

The LOTT Donates $500,000 to Mater Researchers

The Stillbirth CRE was among the Mater Research projects chosen to receive support through a $500,000 donation from Golden Casket. Professor Vicki Flenady was recognised for her work in stillbirth prevention, and explained in an interview with Channel 10 news on March 2 the need for further research to develop a risk prediction tool, as well as adapt key resources for maternity healthcare professionals in high risk communities to work to reduce the disparity of stillbirth rates in these communities. View a video of the researchers explaining their work.

Half of twins born premature as doctors choose to deliver early: Sydney Morning Herald

Stillbirth CRE executive committee member and Kolling Institute’s Women and Babies Research director Professor Jonathan Morris recently spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald about why every week counts when it comes to pregnancy. The article focused on the rise in premature twin babies born in NSW. Read the full article.