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First published Wednesday 10 July 2019.

It was a conversation between Telethon Kids Institute researcher Brad Farrant and University of South Australia PhD student Danielle Pollock, at the International Stillbirth Alliance Conference in Scotland last year, that gave rise to the group SPEAR: Stillbirth Parents, Educators, Awareness advocates and Researchers.

The pair joined up with Telethon Kids researcher Dr Carrington Shepherd, Claire Foord, founder of charity Still Aware, and Associate Professor Jane Warland, of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of South Australia, to form the group, which aims to ensure that the voices of bereaved parents are heard in stillbirth policy, research and ultimately practice. 

Dr Farrant, Danielle Pollock, Claire Foord and Jane Warland have all personally experienced stillbirth in their lives, with their experiences as bereaved parents a key driver as they seek to change the conversation around stillbirth.

Dr Farrant said that for him, the most important function of the group – which was still in its early days – was public education.

“Not long ago, it was thought the best thing for bereaved parents was to have the baby taken away and never spoken of again,” he said.

“Thankfully, through a concerted advocacy and education campaign this is no longer the case. Unfortunately there is still a lot of stigma and lack of understanding about stillbirth, and this is why public education is such a vital component of stillbirth prevention.

“Conversations need to happen to educate the public, and it’s important that the voices of bereaved parents are ‘front and centre’ of those conversations.”