Welcome to the last edition of RISA News for 2013. What a year it’s been!

But before we recap, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a photo competition. You should all have your happy snaps by now so here it is!

2013 RISA Conference

We hosted our inaugural conference in April with a jam-packed day at the Brisbane Conference and Entertainment Centre. More than 220 medical professionals attended eight lectures over the course of the day with overwhelmingly positive feedback and requests for more events in the future. All of the lectures from the day are available for purchase from our website (half-price for members) including lectures on GORD in infants, allergy and immunology, speech therapy for feeding issues. They’re really worth checking out.

The conference was part of the inaugural International Paediatric Reflux Awareness Week where other similar educational and awareness-raising events were held around the world.

RISA Growth

RISA itself has become more well-known with over 4,100 followers on our public Facebook page (up from 1,100 this time last year), more than 160 Facebook group members and 500 RISA members in total – up from 320 at the end of 2012 (over a 50% increase).

Facebook groups

Our Facebook groups were launched in July 2013 and have helped us be better able to help each other more immediately, on our mobiles or wherever and it’s proved a more active place for discussion than our traditional forums. We’ve also started a group for complex needs kids including those with tube feeders and those having had or who are candidates for fundoplication (anti-reflux) surgery. Let us know if you don’t have access to our facebook groups and we’ll make sure you do! In the new year we’ll tackle how to update our forums to make them more accessible & user-friendly. The are currently being used far less than before we launched the facebook groups. We would also be interested in your feedback about whether you think we need separate forums in addition to our facebook groups.

RISA Volunteers

RISA volunteers have been hard at work returning emails & phone calls of members and the general community, helping parents to better understand the reflux monster their child is battling with and making suggestions about how to manage day-to-day.

This year also brought us a big growth in visits to our website with the vast majority of site users looking for information on silent reflux and how to manage it. We now have 15,700 visits to our site per month, up more than 50% on this time last year.

And our volunteers managed to win a grant for $300 from Grill’d Fortitude Valley! A big thanks to them for looking at our application and to the customers of Grill’d Fortitude Valley for voting for RISA! Read more about it here.

New articles on our website include:

Some new helpful resources for members are:

Plus we now have more than 20 personal stories to choose from & quite a few handy recipes for mums managing their own elimination diets or for the kids. Not to mention some awesome book reviews and additions to the RISA library that can be borrowed by members for free at any time. Our latest personal story is from Erin about her youngest son Oliver and a personal story about infant reflux and post-natal depression. Both worth reading!

We’re likely to have a slightly slower start to the new year with a considerable number of our volunteers either having babies (hopefully non-refluxers!) or managing their families through some big life events. That said we have a few new wonderful volunteers stepping into the breach with the likes of:

  • the lovely Nicole taking over from the wonderful, long-serving and utterly amazing Tanya in the role of email contact co-ordinator,
  • Bree who is taking over from another incredible, hugely-capable and giving long-term volunteer in Chrissy as call contact co-ordinator,
  • Jenny bringing her marketing experience to the Advocacy Committee and
  • both Kate, bringing her medical expertise and Faith bringing her government experience to potentially both the Advocacy & Executive teams.

If you’d like to be involved in any small (or big) way in helping other parents or raising awareness of infant reflux, please just jump in. We’re just a bunch of mums, running our busy lives but who answer emails or make calls in between loads of washing, cuddling sick kids & wrapping Christmas presents.

We hope you’ve had the best possible year and that RISA has in some way helped to lighten the load a little.

Wishing you all a reflux-free Christmas and new year.

Joanne Matthews
for Reflux Infants Support Association