The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) calls on the Commonwealth Government to accept all the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education and immediately turn a lens on this long-neglected epidemic.

“Countries around the world envy aspects of our healthcare system and the outcomes achieved in Australia,” said Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN. “Yet Australia lags behind other high-income countries when it comes to stillbirth rates. Our stillbirth rate is 35 per cent higher than the best performing countries.

“The death of an unborn child has long-term psychosocial and economic consequences on parents, families, carers, health systems and communities.

“We must learn more about why stillbirth rates are so high in Australia and do more to prevent Australian families experiencing this devastating tragedy.

“Therefore, ACN welcomes the focus of the Senate Select Committee’s report on research, particularly identification of risk factors and ways to address or minimise risks.”

In its submission to the Select Committee, ACN recommended making support services more inclusive of people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, given the higher rates experienced by women in these demographic groups.

“We strongly support the Committee’s call for development of a national culturally and linguistically appropriate continuity of care model,” said Adjunct Professor Ward.

“ACN submitted to the Committee that technology has a key role to play, so applauds it prioritising collaborative research programs which explore new technologies that may prevent stillbirth.

“Australia’s stillbirth rate has barely changed in the last 20 years. There is no time to delay and we would like the Committee’s recommendations actioned without delay.

“Support for grieving families, public awareness campaigns and increased education will also be key pillars in addressing this epidemic. ACN is well placed to deliver education for nurses across Australia about the impact of a loss of an unborn child and would welcome the Government’s support to commence development.”

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