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Join our Clinical Conversation for an update from the Victorian Perinatal Autopsy Service (VPAS) team, who ensures consistent standards of practice and expertise in the clinical investigation of perinatal deaths across Victoria.

In this presentation, we introduce the VPAS team and you will learn about their work in the Victorian health system. We'll explore some of the barriers to autopsy consent and review the current and future method of referral for autopsy. You will also hear about:

  • changes in how to make a referral to VPAS and the role of the Perinatal Autopsy coordination team
  • changes in patient identification requirements 
  • changes in how babies are transported for autopsy.

CONTENT WARNING: This presentation relates to perinatal death (stillbirth and infant loss) and discusses autopsy and bereavement care. This session will be targeted to clinicians and may be distressing for some parents/consumers. Parents/consumer are welcome to attend but should please note this content warning.


Nicole vander Linden is the VPAS manager and a registered nurse with expertise in neonatal intensive care and quality improvement. She has coordinated the VPAS for the last 7 years and is currently leading a small team that aims to centralise the autopsy referral process and introduce a Perinatal Autopsy Coordinator position. This position will support clinicians in the referral process and provide a point of contact for families who have experienced perinatal loss and consented to an autopsy.

Rosie Downing is a midwife and nurse, who was recently employed by VPAS as a Perinatal Autopsy Coordinator. She has worked primarily in continuity models of midwifery care across services to support families through the continuum of pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, including bereavement. Her experience in supporting bereaved families has strengthened her desire to ensure that the support and services that are offered during this difficult time are as caring, considerate and streamlined as possible. One of the ways she will work towards this is to support families and clinicians through the process of consent and referral for autopsy.

Sharon Kirsopp is a Perinatal Autopsy Coordinator with the VPAS. She has extensive experience in perinatal bereavement care and has worked as the bereavement coordinator at The Royal Women's Hospital for the past 15 years. Sharon is a social worker and is passionate about ensuring all families who experience pregnancy or infant loss are given compassionate, comprehensive, supportive care. The Perinatal Autopsy Coordinator supports clinicians during the consent and referral process for autopsy, coordinates the transfer of the baby, and offers support and information to bereaved families.

For more information, visit the Maternity and Newborn Learning Health Network.