Birthing on Country Project
The main goal of the Birthing on Country (BoC) Project is to improve birth outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies. The goal is to establish BoC models of maternity care, whether this be Aboriginal Midwifery Group Practices, birthing in hospital with a known Midwife or stand-alone Aboriginal birth centres. This can be achieved through collaboration with Community members, health services, health professionals and State and National Government.
Birthing on Country "…should be understood as a metaphor for the best start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies and their families because it provides an integrated, holistic and culturally appropriate model of care; not only bio-physical outcomes … it’s much, much broader than just the labour and delivery … (it) deals with socio-cultural and spiritual risk that is not dealt with in the current systems.”
Birthing on Country Workshop Report 2013
In 2015, together with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) and CRANAplus, ACM signed a joint position statement on “Birthing on Country” in support of establishing Birthing on Country models of care in Australia. The joint position statement took a heavy stance on providing continuity of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, increasing access for women in rural and remote locations, additional provisions in training Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwives and development and implementation of widespread cultural safety training for health professionals engaging with Aboriginal people. You can read the full statement here.
The Birthing on Country project was driven by ACM from 2017-2019 with a grant provided by Merk for Mothers and Merk Australia. The project raised the profile of Birthing on Country and several Birthing on Country trial sites and models were planned.
Upon completion of the project funding in 2019, leadership for Birthing on Country advocacy shifted from ACM to the newly established Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at Charles Darwin University. Dedicated to the late Molly Wardaguga, Burarra Elder, Aboriginal Midwife, Senior Aboriginal Health Worker and founding member of the Malabam Health Board in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, the centre honours Molly’s important contribution to the Australian discourse regarding the importance of Birthing on Country. You can read more about the centre here: https://www.birthingoncountry.com/
The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre is a key contributor to the BOOSt (Building On Our Strengths) project which has strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance, leadership and oversight. It is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded partnership project.
The aim of the project is to implement and evaluate 'Birthing on Country' in urban (Queensland) and rural (New South Wales) settings. ACM Principal Midwifery Officer Kellie Wilton is a member of the BOOSt steering committee.