Safer Baby Collaborative

Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (12:20): I rise to update the house on the steps being taken to reduce preventable stillbirths in Victoria. Every stillbirth is a heartbreaking experience for the women, their families and healthcare teams and their entire communities. Equally tragic is that our stillbirth rate in Victoria has remained largely unchanged for the past two decades. Whilst we may never know why some babies are stillborn, research tells us that some can be prevented, and this is why I was proud to launch the Safer Baby Collaborative last week. This project is a partnership between Safer Care Victoria and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. It aims to raise awareness of stillbirth risk factors and improve clinical practice with the aim of reducing the stillbirth rate from five different angles, looking at issues such as increasing public awareness of the importance of fetal movements, improving diagnosis and management of fetal growth restriction, improving the smoking cessation rates in pregnancy, raising awareness of safe maternal sleeping positions and promoting the appropriate timing of birth and mitigating unintended consequences or harm.

For the very first time we are setting a target. We want to see a 20 per cent reduction in stillbirths in Victoria by 2022. For the 20 maternity services who have signed up to this project as first cabs off the rank, that target is even more ambitious. They have set an ambitious target of reducing stillbirths by 30 per cent by 2020. Through the Safer Baby Collaborative we are uniting individual efforts across our health system to improve health and overall care and reduce stillbirths. I commend all the health services who attended that first meeting of the Safer Baby Collaborative last week. I commend them for their work, and I am very grateful for the work that Safer Care Victoria is undertaking. We are committed to making a real difference for pregnant women, their families and their babies.