Our History

Red Nose Australia has grown from small group of families to Australia’s leading organisation dedicated to saving little lives during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood, and supporting anyone impacted by the death or a baby or child.


1977 – 1998

  • Victorian organisation founded in 1977 by Kaarene Fitzgerald following the death of Glenn 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 son Todd in 1977.
  • 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 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 SIDS, later becoming 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. Clara Foster becomes the driving force for the association following the death of her son in 1979.
  • First National Red Nose Day held in 1988 – asking Australian to “get silly for a serious cause”.
  • After Hours Telephone Support Service established and First Emergency Responders’ Manual launched
  • “Reducing the Risks” health promotion campaign begins, with more than 200,000 brochures distributed
  • Regional bereavement support established with Barwon Paediatric Bereavement Program at Geelong
  • 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 referrals to the bereavement support service
  • Treasured Babies’ Program established in 2002
  • The Kaarene Fitzgerald Lecture and Research Fellowship established in 2005 through the Monash Institute for Medical Research
  • Development of resources for the CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities
  • SIDSwa Annual Red Nose Day Ball rated in top 10 social events in 2002
  • SIDSwa incorporated with Sands WA in 2000, followe3d by SIDAnsw merges and Sands NSW to become SIDS & Kids NSW in 2002
  • Reducing the Risk of SUDI in Aboriginal Communities (RROSIAC) program established in 2005
  • Collaboration with Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) on national guidelines and standards for care and management of families experiencing stillbirth.
  • Red Nose Goes Green clothing collection program established in Victoria in 2008
  • Walk to Remember annual event launched in 2009

2011 – 2018

  • Following a review of current evidence, a sixth recommendation ‘Breastfeed baby’ is added to the Safe Sleeping public health campaign in 2012.
  • SIDS & Kids Victoria and SIDS & Kids NSW merge in August 2012 to become SIDS & Kids NSW/Victoria, with Peter Kaye as the inaugural Chairperson
  • SIDS and Kids WA merges with SIDS and Kids Limited in November 2014
  • Professor Rosemary Horne is appointed Chair of the National Scientific Advisory Group in July 2015.
  • SIDS & Kids QLD merges with SIDS and Kids Limited on 25 October 2015
  • National SIDS Council of Australia and SIDS & Kids Hunter Region both merge with SIDS & 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 & Kids ACT merges with SIDS & Kids Limited on 12 October 2016
  • SIDS & Kids Limited launches its new business name, Red Nose, at Parliament House, Canberra, on 13 October 2016, and pledges to eliminate all preventable deaths of babies and children during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood.
  • 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 in the area of stillbirth prevention: 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 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 steps down as Chair of Red Nose after 13 years as a Board member.
  • Mr Craig Heatley is elected Chair of Red Nose in November 2017.
  • Red Nose Day’s 30th anniversary is celebrated in 2018.

2018 and beyond

  • In December, Keren Ludski is appointed as CEO of Red Nose, and the organisation recommits itself to reduce the nine deaths per day to ZERO and to ensuring that every grieving family receives the support they need, when they need it, and for as long as they need it.
  • Red Nose is awarded $1.5 million from the Australian government to deliver a national stillbirth awareness campaign to help reduce the unacceptably high rates of stillbirth in Australia. The campaign will launch in early 2021.
  • November 2020, Red Nose and Sands Australia merge operations to create Australia’s leading organisation working both to prevent babies and young children dying suddenly and unexpectedly, and supporting families following the tragic death of their baby or child during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood.