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Conference Program

  • Wednesday 14th September - opening plenary session followed by the welcome reception on-site at the conference venue - the Pacific Bay Resort. 
  • Thursday 15 September - early morning yoga, swim or run! Breakfast, plenary and concurrent sessions
  • Friday 16 September - early morning yoga, swim or run! Breakfast, plenary and concurrent sessions + Gala Conference Dinner

Download the conference program

Social Program

Welcome Reception
The welcome reception will be held on the lagoon deck at the conference venue - Pacific Bay Resort, on Wednesday 14th September, from 5.30 - 7.00 pm.
Local variety of market stall holders will be invited to sell their wares so that we offer support to the local area. 






Gala Conference Dinner - Celebration of 30 years - Friday 16 September

Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club by the sea
Time: 6 for 6.30 pm start. Finishing by 11 pm.
Music: DJ
Food and Drinks: 3 course alternate drop menu. A selection of wines, sparkling, beer, soft drinks included (until the bar tab is spent)
Extra's: a photo booth!
Cost: from $75 (members); $95 non-members.

Theme: "Party like it's 1992!"
As ACNN (formerly ANNA) formed in 1992... then lets reconnect and party like it's 1992!

So what happened in 1992... Grunge entered mainstream fashion... as did Doc Martens, ripped jeans, Birkenstocks, Navy Blue Blazers and Leggings... Large oversized silver hoop earrings or diamond stud earrings were in fashion. 

Remember Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden? ...they became popular in 1992... The No 1 single in Australia was "Achy breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus.

So come along, reminisce, dance the night to those good ole tunes or throw on your favourite outfit from 1992 (optional) and lets party! Themed dress is not required but very much welcomed.  

Early Morning Yoga

Start the day with a Yoga session on the Bayside Green!

Bec Gilby will hold a Yoga session from 6.30 - 7.30 am on Thursday and Friday mornings (dependent on numbers). Bec has been teaching Yoga for more than 20 years and has her own yoga shala in Coffs Harbour. Bec’s training is in Ashtanga Yoga/Hatha/Pre- and post-natal yoga. $20 for the session, payable as part of the registration process.

Breakfast Sessions

Breakfast will be served from 6.30 - 7 am in the Courtyard area prior to the Breakfast sessions commencing just after 7am. These sessions will run until 8.15 am. Session prices from $15 (includes breakfast).

Registration is required for the breakfast sessions. Sessions can be booked initially with your registration or can be added at a later date (numbers strictly limited).

Thursday 15 September
Breakfast Session 1 - "Time for you ~ care for a professional"
Facilitated by Alja Hopkins

Alja has over twenty  years’ experience as a social worker, both in Europe and Australia, having worked in Australian frontline settings since 2007 in both government and non-government sectors including neonatal and maternal hospital specialised care. Alja has expertise in trauma informed therapeutic care provision and is a clinical supervisor to health professionals. Alja is an educator to health professionals for the Mind Heart Connect Foundation.  Her areas of expertise are complex trauma relief, PTSD, anxiety/depression, grief/loss, pain (including chronic health issues) and perinatal maternal and family health. With a professional background in clinical social work and psychotherapy Alja is passionate about supporting her clients, colleagues, and the wider community with her work. 

SYNOPSIS: Spend a highly experiential and skills based time with Alja and to connect back to yourself. Experience and learn a few evidence based self-care protocols you can implement immediately for yourself to increase your personal resiliency capacities.

Breakfast Session 2 - "Improving the quality of maternal and newborn care in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea" Facilitated by the LRC SIG
Presenter: Dr Alyce Wilson. 
Dr Alyce Wilson is a Public Health Physician and Senior Research Fellow working in global maternal, child and adolescent health at the Burnet Institute. She is an Australian medical doctor with postgraduate qualifications in public health and obstetrics and gynaecology. Alyce is a fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal Australasian College of Physicians and has recently completed a PhD examining the quality of maternal and child care in Papua New Guinea. Further to her role at Burnet, Alyce is a Senior Medical Advisor with the Victorian Department of Health and lectures science, medical and public health students at the University of Melbourne. 

Breakfast Session 3 - Stabilisation and preparation for retrieval
Thursday 15th September
Presenter:  Sarah Bincy, NETS NSW  
The focus of this session will present case studies/scenarios of unexpected preterm delivery in a regional centre and presentation in emergency departments. Interactive discussion of initial management/stabilisation and and preparation for retrieval. Suited for those working in regional settings. Further details to follow.  

Breakfast Session 4 - What about dad? Supporting fatherhood in the neonatal unit.
Presenters: Sophia Qiuxia Dong, TBA- SMS 4dad, Julie Borninkohf, Renee Muirhead & Amanda Bates. Facilitated by the NDC SIG.
This session aims to raise the awareness of fatherhood and mental health of fathers among neonatal nurses.
Sophia Qiuxia Dong -  will share her results of a exploratory study looking at the impact of kangaroo care on fathers when their babies are cared for in a NICU. Current evidence and further research from diverse backgrounds and culture will be discussed.
SMS4dad -  SMS4dad will introduce the innovate approach to integrate family with NICU using modern technology.
Julie Borninkoh - will highlight the mental health of father's and introduce the work of PANDA in recent years.
Renee Muirhead & Amanda Bates - will discuss the development, implementation and challenges of a father’s peer support group in a large tertiary referral centre in Queensland.

Breakfast Session 5 - "Improvement in thermoregulation outcomes following the implementation of a thermoregulation bundle for preterm infants"
Presenter: Hannah Skelton, NICU, Westmead Hospital, Sydney.
Sponsored session by GE Healthcare  

Plenary Sessions

Plenary 1
“Something’s changed…”
Professor Christine Duffield
Synopsis: The last few years have demonstrated to the world that our profession can change and adapt to circumstances quickly and efficiently. Nurses rose to the challenge with new initiatives, new roles and responsibilities and new approaches to care. However, concerns about workforce participation, supply and retention persist. While some things have changed there is more to be done and new challenges facing us as a workforce. This paper will explore some of these issues.

The Evolution of Family-Centred Neonatal Care: Where we’ve come from and future possibilities.
Professor Linda Franck
Synopsis: The health and well-being of small and sick newborns depends on their family and healthcare team working together. Hospitals that have family-centered care models and work in partnership with families have better quality and safety records than hospitals that do not. However, many hospitals reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic by erasing over 60 years of progress in family-centred care in an instant. What can we learn from the fragility of family-centred care in our healthcare systems? What can be done to restore and strengthen family-centred care to ensure that families are treated as essential care partners regardless of the challenges? How will nursing lead to rebuild trust between families and healthcare professionals/health systems?

How nutrition influences the lives of preterm babies: past, present and future.
Dr Barbara Cormack
Synopsis: The nutrition preterm babies receive from birth influences their lifelong health. In the past 30 years neonatal nutrition has transitioned from simply helping preterm babies survive, to become a key factor for improving their growth and long-term health. One of several future challenges for those who provide nutrition care for preterm babies is the significant variation in enteral nutrition practices around Australia and New Zealand, potentially compounding the greater health challenges these babies face. Barbara is a specialist neonatal dietitian at the forefront of clinical research in this area. Her research focuses on our smallest preterm babies, for whom the amount and exact composition of nutrition can have the most significant impact on survival, clinical outcomes, growth, neurodevelopment and lifelong health.

Plenary 2
Nursing Workforce: Is there a rabbit in that hat?
Professor Christine Duffield, Karen Hose, Associate Professor Margaret Broom, Anndrea Flint.
Synopsis: This session explores the nursing workforce from a local to a more global view. Focusing on a neonatal perspective, clinical application and then applying knowledge from one of the foremost academics on workforce. Time will then be made available for open discussion and questions. Each speaker will present salient views about the workforce from a contemporary understanding of work they are currently undertaking or have completed.

Plenary 3
We have the evidence; but what about our practices? Adoption of Early EBM, Developmental Care and Pain Management.
Melissah Burnett, Dr Jennifer Dawson & Professor Denise Harrison
Synopsis: There is robust evidence showing that the use of early EBM, developmental care and pain management (sweet solutions, breastfeeding and skin-skin care) during painful procedures are beneficial. However these practices have been slow to be adopted into consistent clinical practice. What are the challenges in implementing these evidence-based practices? This session will challenge us all to consider our practices, and how to move the knowledge into action. 

Pearls from the ProVIDe trial
Dr Barbara Cormack
Synopsis: Globally, there is great variation in nutrition care for preterm babies. One reason for this is a lack of high-quality evidence on which to base international guidelines. A key area of controversy is the optimum protein intake for a preterm baby. To address this knowledge gap, the ProVIDe trial randomised 434 extremely low birthweight babies to receive 1 g per day of extra parenteral protein or placebo in addition to their usual nutrition to determine whether this would improve neurodevelopment at two years of age. In addition to presenting the primary outcome of the trial, Dr Barbara Cormack will discuss other valuable findings from the trial that are changing how we provide parenteral nutrition for preterm babies now and in the future.

Plenary 4
Gestational Ageism: What is it and why you should care?
Dr Nicholas Williams

Synopsis: You’ve probably heard about people be ageists, but what is Gestational Ageism?  This talk will delve into this concept and explain why it is important that we avoid it when making decisions for extremely premature infants.

Plenary 5
No-treatment arms in trials of procedural pain management – can they be ethically justified?
Professor Denise Harrison, Dr Stephen McKeever & Professor Lynn Gillam

Synopsis: High quality robust evidence shows that breastfeeding, skin-to-skin care and small volumes of sucrose or glucose reduce pain during painful procedures. Given the strong evidence-base, there is no longer uncertainty about the effectiveness of these strategies in reducing neonatal pain during commonly performed needle related painful procedures. Yet placebo/no treatment group trials evaluating analgesic effects of pain treatments continue to be planned, conducted and published. The question of whether such studies are ethically justifiable, has been debated. This workshop, using the example of sweet solution analgesia, will include a summary of the evidence, along with arguments for and against continued exploration and subsequent publication of studies with placebo/no treatment groups. In this workshop, the panel will highlight the debate regarding ethics of neonatal pain research conduct and publication, equipoise, and ethical principles of human experimentation as per the Declaration of Helsinki.

Plenary 6
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring in Neonates – how far have we come? 
Professor Karen Whitfield
Synopsis: Therapeutic Drug Monitoring has been available for over 40 years, historically implemented to reduce risks of adverse events in patients when using potentially toxic medications. Increasingly TDM has been used to optimize pharmacological management outcomes in patients. Undertaking TDM in neonates has many advantages particularly for the preterm infant. However, challenges exist including sampling and interpretation of results. This session will provide an overview of TDM in the neonate, latest advances and what the future may hold.     

“Changing neonatal outcomes over time”
Dr Jenny Bowen

Synopsis: Neonatal Intensive Care has changed significantly over the past 40 years, resulting in increased survival rates and expectations for care. This session will look at how neurodevelopmental outcomes have changed over this time and the ongoing challenges for the future.  

Comparison of Family-Centred Care with Family Integrated Care and Mobile Technology (mFICare) on Preterm infant, Family and Staff Outcomes
Professor Linda Franck
Synopsis: Authentic and consistent family-centred care remains an elusive goal in most NICUs. It also remains unclear what ‘dose’ or combination of family-centred care practices and parental involvement are necessary for optimal infant outcomes. Family 
Integrated Care (FICare) has emerged as a well-defined, yet flexible model of parent-partnered NICU care that has been shown to improve infant and parent outcomes in clinical trials and quality improvement evaluations across high and middle income countries. In this session, new research findings from a mobile-enhanced FICare trial will be shared. Challenges and opportunities for implementing family-centred or family integrated care will be discussed.

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent 1: Research stream
‘From practice to publication: Sharing our stories.’
Dr Stephen McKeever (Invited speaker)
This seminar is an ACNN Research Special Interest Group initiative aimed specifically at clinicians and research students to support high level writing skills. There are many reasons for writing a paper. These include sharing clinical and research observations; submitting one’s observations, ideas, and conclusions to critical evaluation by peers; to provide guidance to improve the health care; to advocate for policy change; or to support one’s professional advancement. Writing also provides an excellent learning experience, promotes critical thinking, and enhances the ability to be more concise in written communications.

A significant hurdle to be overcome by inexperienced authors is writing a good manuscript. This seminar is designed to encourage new writers by suggesting ways to smooth the, sometimes-bumpy, path between having an idea for a paper and reaching publication. The session will provide an insider's view of the publishing and writing world, specific to nursing: editor and reviewer expectations, analysis of published articles, suggestions for getting started, revising, and submitting manuscripts.

Initially in this session a neonatal nurse will present their experience of writing and submitting a first paper for publication. This presentation will provide a firsthand account of some challenges as well as the rewards of publication.

This will be followed by a presentation from our guest speaker Dr Stephen McKeever. Stephen will discuss the publication process from writer, reviewer, and editor perspective. Dr McKeever will reflect on his experiences of writing, reviewing, and editing papers over his 30-year career, and will share some of the practical lessons learned. This session will include suggestions about how to address the needs of the reviewers, editors, and readers of a journal to improve your chance of publication.

Concurrent 2: Innovative practice stream
Free abstract presentations - see program

Concurrent 3: Leadership stream
Stringing pearls together – grading from culture to mindset
Jane Stanfield (Invited speaker)
When stringing pearls together, one of the first things to consider is how you will grade them or place them in order for the pattern you wish to create.  There are thousands of pearls of wisdom on culture, communication, wellbeing, mindset and maintaining energy (topics touched on in this session), but do we know which work for us and how to string them together to create a beautiful pattern – for yourself or your team? And, could understanding how they string together provide us with more of a sense of calm and “control” amidst the complexity of modern neonatal nursing?  Come to this session for a different look at the components of each of these (those grains of sands that often irritate our “mantle” of composure!) and we will consider how they string together.   It will be pragmatic and “doable” – you will leave with insights and plans to polish your pearls and see connections which will help you to influence your workplace and yourself.  Whether you are in a formal leadership position or a peer influencer, this session will give you clear ideas and actions to take away – to bring calm to yourself and to influence your workplace culture.

Concurrent 4: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner stream
TBC - Professor Lynn Gilliam (Invited speaker)
Synopsis: coming soon

Concurrent 5: Infant feeding stream
Oral feeding and aspiration risk for infants receiving nCPAP and HFNC
Angie Canning
 (Invited speaker)
Synopsis: Historically, infants and children receiving nCPAP or HFNC were not orally fed, however this practice is increasingly occurring.  There is limited evidence as to whether commencing oral feeding while on nCPAP or HFNC facilitates transition to full oral feeding without adverse effects.  This presentation will summarise and discuss research findings regarding oral feeding for this population.

Concurrent 6: Neo-Skin stream
Neonatal Skin – Topical Issues and Management
Synopsis: Neonatal Skin is unique in its structure and function and can be at various stages of immaturity. Therefore, managing a neonatal skin injury or wound using products made for an adult world is challenging due to limited quality neonatal evidence. This interactive session will allow clinicians to discuss the variety of dressings, wound care products, and available techniques. Participants will be able to practice management plans and the most appropriate application of products for different wound/injury types. Bring along a list of wound care or dressing products in use at your facility to assist in the exploration and application of different products on a variety of neonatal wounds.

Concurrent 7:  Neurodevelopmental care  stream
“Brain function monitoring in neonates – interpreting the aEEG”
Dr Jenny Bowen (Invited speaker)

Synopsis: Neuro-monitoring is one of the 4 pillars of NeuroNICU care for neonates. Brain monitoring using the aEEG has become standard practice for neonates with Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy receiving Therapeutic Hypothermia and for neonates who are thought to be having seizures. This session will look at how to interpret the aEEG and how the aEEG can assist with predictions about longer term developmental outcomes.

Concurrent 8: Education stream
Online education: One neonatal department’s experience during the COVID pandemic
Dr Nicholas Williams (Invited speaker)

Synopsis: Hear how one neonatal department transitioned to online education during the COVID pandemic.  This talk will include both the successes as well as the pitfalls and most importantly, the lessons learnt.

Concurrent 9: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner stream
Pharmacological management of pain and sedation – what’s new
Professor Karen Whitfield (Invited speaker)
Synopsis:  Optimal management of pain and sedation in neonates remains a challenge. Choice of agent will depend on many variables. Addressing tolerance and avoiding withdrawal is also challenging and controversy remains regarding the most appropriate duration of analgesic and sedation wean. This session will focus on pharmacological management of pain and sedation and available evidence for new approaches and agents.  

For all conference enquires please direct emails to conference@acnn.org.au

Updated 30 June 2022