Our History

The Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation Inc., now known as Red Nose, was founded by Kaarene Noelle Fitzgerald AC in 1977 following the death of her son Glenn to SIDS.

Red Nose

The organisation has grown from small volunteer self-help roots into a vital and vibrant organisation that supports bereaved families and educates parents, health professionals and the community throughout Australia.

The Origins of the Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation

Since its inception it has funded scientific research, changed policy and practice by educating health professionals and the community, saved the lives of thousands of babies through the delivery of evidence-based health promotion to reduce infant and child death, and supported bereaved families of children who die suddenly and unexpectedly from any cause.

Under Kaarene’s leadership, the perception of SIDS changed and there has been a significant shift in how bereaved families are treated during those initial devastating days following the death of their child.

In recognition of Kaarene’s international leadership in research, Red Nose established a Kaarene Fitzgerald New Investigator Award that is presented at the bi-annual ISPID/ISA International Conference.

Today our ‘Sleep Safe, My Baby’ public health program is one of the most successful, non-government funded public health campaigns in Australia. Thousands of Safe Sleeping brochures and other information are provided to new parents, hospitals, health centres, childcare centres and others at no cost. This program has resulted in an 85% reduction in sudden infant deaths.

Over its history, Red Nose has been an innovator in bereavement support and community education on both the national and international stage and this will continue into the future.

To quote a long time employee, All of this is the monumental outcome from the death of one very small, very loved baby ~ Judith Rochester.

1977 to present

Innovation and resolve have always been our key strengths and the following milestones highlight these achievements.

1977 – 1998

  • Victorian organisation founded in 1977 by Kaarene Fitzgerald following the death of Glenn Nelson Fitzgerald on Sunday 10 July, one of 18 Victorian babies to die that July.
  • Queensland SIDS organisation founded by Michele Freemantle following the death of her and husband Morrie’s baby boy Todd in 1977. This event shattered the family and motivated Michele and good friend Vilma Ward to raise the funds to establish the organisation.
  • SIDA (Sudden Infant Death Association) NSW founded in 1977 by a group of parents who experienced the death of a baby from SIDS.
  • Western Australian SIDS organisation founded in 1977 by a group of parents who experienced the death of a baby from SIDS.
  • The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Association of South Australia Inc formed by a group of parents in October 1977. Mary Zollo was founding President. Her commitment and drive following the death of her son Robert, helped to establish an organisation that has saved the lives of thousands of babies and funded millions of dollars in research.
  • The inaugural meeting of the Sudden Infant Death Association for ACT and Southern NSW is held in Canberra on 17 November 1978 by a group of parents whose babies had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Its aim is to provide support for all families who suffer the death of a baby through SIDS. On 24 September 1979 the Association becomes an incorporated body and is now known as the Sudden Infant Death Association for the ACT and Southern Districts Incorporated.
  • Following the death of their son, Gary and Jenny Hamilton identify the need for support and information for bereaved parents in the Hunter Region of NSW. Clara Foster became the driving force for the association following the death of her son in 1979. In 1981-82 the Newcastle organisation registered as the Sudden Infant Death Association Newcastle and District.
  • First Red Nose Day held in Victoria in 1987

  • First National Red Nose Day held in 1988

  • After Hours Telephone Support Service established

  • First Emergency Responders’ Manual launched

  • Reducing the Risks health promotion campaign begins and more than 200,000 Reducing the Risk brochures distributed with translations into other languages

  • Global Strategy Task Force commences

  • Regional bereavement support established with Barwon Paediatric Bereavement Program at Geelong

  • Expansion of service to include other sudden and unexpected causes of death

  • Event Scene Investigations for all sudden infant deaths in Victoria and paediatric pathologist funded by SIDRF

  • Bereavement support booklets by families for families developed

  • Support groups and Parent Supporter training established

1999 – 2010

  • Perinatal death becomes the major source of notifications to the bereavement support service
  • Regional bereavement support established in Grampians based at Ballarat
  • Treasured Babies’ Program established in 2002
  • The Kaarene Fitzgerald Lectures and Research Fellowship established in 2005 through the Monash Institute for Medical Research
  • Walk to Remember annual event launched in 2009
  • Collaboration with Victorian Maternal Child Health Nurses on Safe Sleeping policy and training
  • SOS (SIDS focussing On Stillbirth) Forum hosted by NSW in 2001
  • Joint venture Environmental Tobacco Smoke Consortium established 2001 in NSW
  • Representation in the activities of Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ), Perinatal Mortality Special Interest Group and International Stillbirth Alliance (ISA).
  • Development of resources for the CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities
  • Reducing the Risk of SIDS in Aboriginal Communities (RROSIAC) program established in 2005
  • Red Nose Goes Green clothing collection program established in Victoria in 2008
  • SIDSwa Annual Red Nose Day Ball rated in top 10 social events in 2002
  • SIDSwa incorporated with SANDS in 2000; SIDAnsw merges with SANDS (NSW) (Stillborn and Neonatal Death Support) to become SIDSnsw and later SIDS and Kids NSW in 2002
  • Collaboration with SOS and Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) on national guidelines and standards for care and management of families experiencing stillbirth.

2011 to present

  • Following a review of current evidence, the National Scientific Advisory Group supports the decision that a critical threshold has been reached within the evidence that is supportive of breastfeeding as a specific risk reduction measure for sudden unexpected death in infancy. A sixth recommendation ‘Breastfeed baby if you can’ is added to the Safe Sleeping public health campaign in 2012.
  • SIDS and Kids Victoria and SIDS and Kids NSW merge in August 2012 to become SIDS and Kids NSW and Victoria and Peter Kaye becomes first Chair of the merged entity
  • Representation on ISA (International Stillbirth Alliance) Board
  • SIDS and Kids NSW and Victoria changes name to SIDS and Kids Limited in 2014
  • SIDS and Kids WA merged with SIDS and Kids Limited in November 2014
  • Professor Rosemary Horne is appointed Chair of the National Scientific Advisory Group in July 2015.
  • SIDS and Kids QLD merges with SIDS and Kids Limited on 25 October 2015
  • National SIDS Council of Australia and SIDS and Kids Hunter Region both merge with SIDS and Kids Limited on 1 April 2016
  • A Trans-Tasman funding initiative, in collaboration with Cure Kids, is announced to support research projects aimed at improving the lives of babies and young children.
  • SIDS and Kids ACT merges with SIDS and Kids Limited on 12 October 2016
  • SIDS and Kids Limited launches its new business name, Red Nose, at Parliament House, Canberra, on 13 October 2016, and pledges to eliminate all preventable deaths in babies and children. Also launched is the new website rednose.com.au.
  • The Red Nose Grief and Loss website rednosegriefandloss.com.au is launched in October 2016.
  • In March 2017, The Queensland Government announces funding for a safe sleeping program in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that will provide 600 Pepi-Pods. The announcement follows a three year Pepi-Pod trial, which was funded by Red Nose.
  • Mr Theron Vassiliou is appointed CEO of Red Nose in May 2017.
  • In June 2017, Red Nose announces it will provide grants to support two research projects: a $99,750 grant to support the research study Preventing Term Stillbirth in South Asian Born Mothers: A stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial led by Dr Miranda Davies-Tuck, and a $99,255 grant to support the research study The effect of migration and acculturation on risk of stillbirth in Western Australia led by Assoc Prof Craig Pennell.
  • Red Nose Clothing and Collection is launched in South Australia in June 2017.
  • In July 2017, Red Nose and New Zealand charity Cure Kids announce that, through their Trans-Tasman research initiative, a grant will be awarded to support the research study An individual participant data meta-analysis of going-to-sleep position and risk of late pregnancy stillbirth led by Prof Lesley McCowan.
  • Red Nose celebrates its 40th anniversary in July 2017.
  • In 2017, CUA agrees to extend its partnership with Red Nose to 2019. This will provide significant funding for Red Nose’s Education programs.
  • In July 2017, Red Nose announces the awarding of the $50,000 Kaarene Fitzgerald Post Doctoral Fellowship to Dr Fiona Bright to support her research study Bridging the gap between human postmortem tissue analysis and animal models in SIDS research.
  • Red Nose introduces Pepi-Pods to Western Australia’s Kimberley region in late 2017 as part of the Reducing the Risk of SUDI in Aboriginal Communities program.
  • Mr Graham Henderson resigns as Chair of Red Nose and from the Board in November 2017 after 13 years on the boards of the Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation (VIC), the National SIDS Council of Australia, SIDS and Kids Ltd and Red Nose.
  • Mr Craig Heatley is elected Chair of Red Nose in November 2017.
  • Red Nose Day’s 30th anniversary is celebrated in 2018.