The Albanese Government is providing a package of $6.8 million in targeted funding to help ease the grief of stillbirth for bereaved women and families.
Women and families mourning the death of a baby or infant will receive support through funding of $4.2 million to Red Nose Australia’s Hospital to Home program.
A further $2.6 million will be for stillbirth education and awareness initiatives focusing on groups at higher risk of stillbirth, including First Nations women, women from cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, and refugee and migrant groups.
More than 2,000 women and families are impacted by stillbirth each year. The Government is delivering Australia’s first National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan, which aims to reduce stillbirth rates in Australia by 20 per cent or more by December 2025.
Improving holistic bereavement care and community support following stillbirth, and raising awareness and strengthening education, particularly in communities that have a disproportionately high rate of stillbirth, are priorities under the Plan.
Red Nose Australia’s Hospital to Home program assists in the transfer of bereaved families between hospitals and support services.
The program’s focus includes First Nations peoples; culturally and linguistically diverse communities; and families living in rural and remote areas, including for extended family members living overseas.
As well, the program trains and coordinates bereavement outreach support workers, and is increasingly using telehealth to provide support to women and families.
Validating the impact of grief and reducing the isolation felt by women and families, which can lead to major grief and mental health issues, is a key aim of Red Nose Australia’s work.
Bereaved parents are supported to return to their ‘normal’ activities, including work. Family, friends and community are helped to better understand the needs of bereaved families.
Through a targeted, competitive grant opportunity, the following three organisations will also receive total funding of $2.6 million for education and awareness initiatives:
Still Aware Limited – $799,365 to implement the Stillbirth Prevention Education Aboriginal Resources project nationally. Funding will be used to co-design, develop and deliver education and awareness resources that use art, storytelling, music, and dance to help First Nations peoples understand the risk factors for stillbirth and how it can be prevented.
The resources will be co-designed with First Nations communities ‘on-country’ to ensure they are culturally safe and appropriate and use consistent, evidence-based stillbirth awareness and prevention messaging.
The Social Policy Group (formerly the Migration Council of Australia) – $553,000 to implement the ‘Healthy Horizons – Reducing the rate of stillbirths in immigrant and refugee women’ program.
This program will co-design, develop and deliver a series of culturally responsive community education and awareness resources about stillbirth prevention and risk factors, specifically designed for women from South Asian and African communities who experience higher rates of stillbirth. The resources will include social media, graphics and animations that will be distributed to the target population groups through interactive digital communication technology, including social media and the mobile app MyAus, which is a multi-language app providing people born overseas with information to help navigate life in Australia.
The Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth (part of the University of Queensland) – $1.251 million to implement a community education and awareness program. This will build on the previous Red Nose Australia campaign to promote and disseminate stillbirth prevention education and awareness materials for the general population and maternity care clinicians.
The program will also develop and design professional development programs for Aboriginal health care workers, interpreters and health professionals working with First Nations peoples; migrant and refugee groups (focusing on South Asian and African born women); and rural and remote women, as well as their care providers and community leaders.
Quotes to be attributed to Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney
“Stillbirth and losing a baby is absolutely devastating. We want women and families to be supported through this difficult time.”
“Tragically, women from First Nations and multicultural backgrounds have a higher rate of stillbirth. We want to make sure that women get the information and care they need from sources they trust, in culturally appropriate ways.”
Quotes to be attributed to Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy
“As chair of the Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education, I was moved by the stories of families across Australia that helped shine a light on what can still tend to be a hidden tragedy.”
“The Hospital to Home program will go a long way in providing support to families when they need it most, including for First Nations people who are disproportionately affected.”