Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

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Birthing on Country (in Our Community): A case study of engaging stakeholders and developing a best practice Indigenous maternity service in an urban setting

Sue Kildea , Sophie Hickey , Carmel Nelson , Jody Currie , Adrian Carson , Maree Reynolds , Kay Wilson , Sue Kruske , Megan Passey , Yvette Roe , Roianne West , Anton Clifford , Machellee Kosiak , Shannon Watego , Sally Tracy


Developing high quality and culturally responsive maternal and infant health services is a critical part of ‘closing the gap’ in health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The National Maternity Services Plan led work which describes and recommends Birthing on Country best practice maternity care adaptable from urban to very remote settings, yet few examples exist in Australia. This paper demonstrates Birthing on Country principles can be applied in the urban setting, presenting our experience establishing and developing a Birthing on Country partnership service model in Brisbane, Australia. An initial World Café workshop effectively engaged stakeholders, consumers and community members in service planning, resulting in a multi-agency partnership program between a large inner city hospital and two local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS). The Birthing in Our Community program includes: 24/7 midwifery care in pregnancy to six weeks postnatal by a named midwife, supported by Indigenous health workers and a team coordinator; partnership with the ACCHS; oversight from a Steering Committee, including Indigenous governance; clinical/cultural supervision; monthly cultural education days; and support for Indigenous student midwives through cadetships and placement within the partnership. Three years in, the partnership program is proving successful with clients, as well as early signs of improved maternal and infant health outcomes.

AH16218  Accepted 24 January 2017

© CSIRO 2017