Neurodevelopmental Care

Scheduled Events

Tuesday 30 april 2024

Time: 7 pm (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra) 
Title: Dream Big: Two Maternal Insights into Neurodevelopmental Care in the Neonatal Unit and Its Lasting Influence
Every two seconds, a baby is born too soon. Due to their immature body systems, preterm infants are required to spend the start of their lives in the noxious environment of the neonatal unit with constant exposure to painful and stressful experiences assaulting all their senses. While survival rates of preterm infants have increasingly improved, so have their lengths of stay in hospital. The cumulative effect of physiological and sensory stressors puts these infants at higher risk of neurodevelopmental deficits.   Combating these stressors in neonatal units worldwide is the increasing implementation of individualised neurodevelopmental care, where infants and their families are at the centre of care, and sensory supports are provided to aid in regulation and resulting in improved neurodevelopmental outcomes. Central to this is multisensory neuroprotective care and support provided by parents or primary caregivers. This virtual presentation will introduce you to two neonatal unit parent graduates, Tracey Azzopardi and Alana Wilkinson. They will share their experiences of the neonatal unit from a mother’s perspective, how individualised neurodevelopmental care impacted their children while receiving care, and its effect on their lives after leaving the hospital.
Alana Wilkinson and Tracey Azzopadi.
Free for members. $22 for non-members. 
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Alana Wilkinson is one of the most loved folk artists and songwriters on the Australian music scene, but when her son Rafferty was born extremely prematurely, her song writing inspiration sparked in a brand-new way. Rafferty, born at 24 weeks weighing 704 grams, spent 92 days in the NICU at Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane. Being a musician, Alana quickly realised that she needed an instrument to help process the traumatic experience and as soon as she got her hands on a ukulele, Alana wrote a lullaby for Rafferty called ‘Dream Big'. Before moving into music full time, Alana understood the magic of music, spending 8 years as a music therapist for adults with disabilities, however recognised the difference when it was her own teeny tiny child and it was so touch and go.  ‘In amongst the chaos and the heartache, it felt really empowering to be able to dream of a beautiful future with Raff. It was a beautiful way to connect and keep me grounded, singing to him while he slept on my chest’. Alana took the ukulele into the NICU each day and started to write songs about all the milestones Rafferty needed to meet in order for him to come home. Alana penned songs about haemoglobin levels and sending oxygen around the body, among many more. Rafferty spent 12 months on home oxygen and is now a happy, healthy (and noisy) 2-year-old!  And ’The Haemoglobin Song’ has taken on a new life as a singalong hit with audiences at Alana’s shows around the country!

Tracey will share her insights on neurodevelopmental care throughout her daughter Matilda's 161-day NICU journey and post discharge. Matilda was born at 24 weeks (+1 hour!) weighing 590 grams. She spent the first 28 days of life in the Westmead Hospital NICU before being transferred to The Grace Centre for Newborn Care NICU, The Children's Hospital at Westmead for emergency surgery, where she spent a further 4.5 months. Matilda faced various ongoing challenges including chronic lung disease, necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), feeding and sight issues. Through seeing the positive impacts of individualised neurodevelopmental care and early intervention has had for Matilda, Tracey is passionate about and supports promoting awareness and training in order to equip medical professionals and parents in giving individualised neurodevelopmental care to our sickest babies, with the aim of giving them the best possible long-term quality of life.  Tracey holds the position of Chairperson of the NIDCAP Advisory Committee. 

2024 National Conference


4- 6 September
MCG, Melbourne, Victoria

Begin planning today. 

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