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WIRF is one of Australia's leading organisations that is dedicated to improving the health of women and infants.

Stars 2023


The Women and Infants Research Foundation is pleased to present the annual Stars Scientific Symposium.

No stone left unturned in the service of women's and infants' health.

Date: Friday, 1 September 2023, 1pm to 7pm. View the Stars brochure here.
Venue: UWA Club, Banquet Hall, Crawley
Cost: $100 (Students $85) inc presentations and refreshments. Purchase tickets here.


Visiting Professor - Professor Caroline Homer: Turning the tide of caesarean sections: Are we too late? Does it matter?

Caesarean section is the most common surgical procedure globally. In the past two decades, the rates have been rising exponentially, especially among richer communities, in all countries including low-and-middle income countries. In many communities, caesarean section is the norm and women say they do not know anyone who has had a normal birth, further supporting the normality of intervention. 

Clinicians in many countries struggle with the process of decision making especially in highly defensive contexts. It is very hard to deny a caesarean section when the fear of possible litigation later could be high.

In Australia, there is significant variation across the country in rates of caesarean section and whenever the topic is mentioned in the media it creates a firestorm – it seems everyone has an opinion and they are usually polarised. This division goes some way to explaining why variation in caesarean section rates around the country are one of the key maternity indicators of the 2021 Atlas in Healthcare Variation Report, identified as a priority focus by the Commonwealth Government. 

This presentation will present some of the evidence around caesarean section – the positive and negative benefits and impacts, the variability across the globe and Australia and highlight some of the challenges facing women, clinicians and health service planner and policy makers. It aims to challenge our thinking about caesarean section – how best to offer it, use it, study it and defend or deny it? 

Caroline Homer AO (RM MScMed(Clin Epi) PhD FAAHMS) is a midwife, health services researcher, educator and international development advisor.

She is the Co-Program Director, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne and has more than 30 years of experience as a midwife in practice, maternal and perinatal health research, midwifery education and international development.

Prof Homer has more than 280 peer reviewed publications, has written books and book chapters and holds grants in the area of maternal health and stillbirth. Caroline is passionate about midwifery, especially the provision of midwifery continuity of care and she has written widely in this area.

She is also committed to quality midwifery education as the means to improve maternal and newborn care. She currently works globally to improve midwifery care especially in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2020, Caroline was appointed by the WHO’s Director General as the Inaugural Chair, WHO's Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of Experts (STAGE) for Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health, and Nutrition (2020-2022). She is a member of the NMHRC Council and a member of the Victorian Consultative Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality.

Senior Researchers

Clinical Assoc Prof Mary Sharp (King Edward Memorial Hospital) – Care for the extremely preterm infant in WA 

Clinical Assoc Prof Mary Sharp is the Medical Co-Director of the Neonatology Service. She has extensive experience in the acute care and long term follow up of preterm infants. She is passionate about research to improve outcomes for preterm infants and  their families. She is a clinician researcher with a diverse group of research collaborations including WIRF, PCH, UWA, TKI, ECU Centre for improving health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. 

Dr Sarah Li (National University of Singapore) – Use of AI in OBGYN Diagnostics and Teaching

Dr Sarah Li is an accredited specialist in both Obstetrics and Gynaecology practice in Singapore. She has a special interest in Maternal Fetal medicine and is committed to the care of women with high risk pregnancies. Her research endeavours involve perinatal epidemiology and also the use of Artificial Intelligence to improve antenatal care and the care of women in labour. Additionally, she holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Monash University after being awarded a research training fellowship from the National Medical Research Council in Singapore in 2016.

Dr Joseph Carpini (University of Western Australia) – Team structures in clinical settings 

Dr Joseph Carpini is a lecturer of Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour at the UWA Business School. His research focuses on individual performance and mental health at work with a particular focus on the healthcare sector. Dr Carpini’s passion for his field emerged from his early studies in psychology while working full time in a movie theatre. Learning about the psychology of people at work combined with his lived experience fueled a lifelong passion. 

Emerging Researchers 

Jaime Thomas (Curtin University) – Maternity models of care in Australian general practice 
Kaila Stevens (Department of Health, WA) – Transforming care for infants (and children) with rare diseases: A holistic and collaborative cross-sector approach
Erin Fee (University of Western Australia) – Dose optimisation of antenatal steroids 
Haruo Usuda (University of Western Australia) – Extended support of extremely preterm fetuses with an artificial placenta

This event is approved by RANZCOG and ACM each for 4.5 CPD hours.

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Contact details

Women and Infants Research Foundation
Carson House, King Edward Memorial Hospital
374 Bagot Road, Subiaco, WA 6008

Telephone: 08 6458 1437
Fax: 08 6458 1642
Email: info@wirf.com.au

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