Date published: 
15 October 2019
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

A package of education and awareness measures designed to reduce rates of stillbirth, will soon be available for health professionals and pregnant women across Australia.

The Safer Baby Bundle, developed principally by the Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Stillbirth at the University of Queensland, will be provided to hospitals in selected areas.

The national rollout of the bundle is assisted by $3 million from the Morrison Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), to support research to help transition maternity care into routine clinical practice.

This builds on a $1.3 million National Health and Medical Research Council grant to the CRE ​​​​​​earlier this year, which funded trials in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

Six babies are lost to stillbirth every day, while rates of stillbirth in Australia have not dropped for two decades.

The Safer Baby Bundle provides evidence based recommendations in five key risk areas:

  • Detection and management of impaired fetal growth.
  • Awareness and management of decreased fetal movement.
  • Advising women on safe sleeping positions.
  • Supporting women to stop smoking.
  • Better timing of birth for women with risk factors.

The bundle is based on a similar initiative in the United Kingdom, which has been effective in reducing stillbirth rates.

Funding for national implementation of the Safer Baby Bundle forms part of the Government’s response to the 2018 Senate inquiry into stillbirths.

Our Government has agreed or agreed in principle to all of the inquiry’s recommendations and supports a bipartisan approach to this difficult issue.

We are also providing $3 million for stillbirth education and awareness programs, and $1.2 million to the University of Melbourne for research into the use of biomarkers and ultrasound in late pregnancy, to minimise preventable stillbirth.

Volunteer-based organisation, Sands Australia, will receive $1.3 million to provide an intensive “Hospital to Home” support service to families following stillbirth and miscarriage.

In addition, we are developing a National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan, working with key stakeholders and individuals.

The draft plan, informed by a roundtable held last February, covers strategies for reducing stillbirth and improved support for bereaved families. It will be fine-tuned at a second roundtable on 2 December.

Reducing the rate of stillbirth in Australia, including providing the best possible support services for families living with the tragedy of stillbirth, is a Morrison Government health and well-being priority.

We understand the importance of this issue, not only for the women affected, but for their partners, families and the broader community.

Ministers: