Government backs ‘hospital to home’ infant loss support program

By Melissa Coade

Monday October 18, 2021

Greg Hunt
Greg Hunt. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

A $400,000 government grant will keep an intensive support program for families grieving the loss of their infant by another six months.

The program’s goals are to help parents navigate the complications of their grief, which can grow to become serious mental health issues and other lifelong hardships for families. It also provides digital resources for grieving families who live in regional and remote parts of the country where support services are limited. 

By 30 June 2021, a total of 221 grieving families had been referred to the ‘hospital to home’ program (21% of those families lived in remote and regional Australia). 

Health minister Greg Hunt made the funding announcement on Friday — international pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day — saying that the Red Nose program supported bereaved parents during a time when they were at greatest risk of isolation. 

“The pain of the loss does not stop with mothers,” Hunt said.

“It also affects partners and families and has a flow-on effect to the community and this extra funding will ensure they can continue to receive the support they need.”

Each year in Australia approximately 2,000 children are stillborn, with around 110,000 women experiencing a miscarriage and another 600 families losing their infant within the first 28 days of their birth. 

An estimated 70% of women will experience grief-related depressive symptoms at clinically significant levels one year after stillbirth.

As a result of the government’s $400,000 donation to the Red Nose program, it will be able to continue delivering its critical services for another six months (until 30 June, 2022). 

The health minister listed a range of federal investment initiatives that were supporting efforts to reduce stillbirth rates in Australia, with $21.3 million towards the goal of reducing stillbirth by more than 20% by the end of 2025, and  $152.3 million for better support families impacted by the tragedy. 

“The government is committed to improving health outcomes for mothers and babies to reduce the devastation of pregnancy and infant loss,” Hunt said.

“Many of these initiatives are being delivered in partnership with states and territories, and non-government organisations including Red Nose, the Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence and the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance.”

Federal funding has also been committed $13.7 million to a national program led by the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance to reduce preterm birth rates; and another $43.9 million for mental health and wellbeing services for families who have experienced the loss of an infant child.


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