Does the Council of Deans Nursing and Midwifery value midwives?

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the Council of Deans Nursing and Midwifery (CDNM) planned to run a symposium in Queensland as a celebration of Nursing and Midwifery, and as an opportunity to review and plan for future workforce requirements for the two professions. ACM was invited to attend and was offered two complimentary tickets.

ACM decided to decline the invitation. Two ACM attendees would not provide adequate representation for the needs of midwifery or midwives, when many nursing organisations were similarly attending.  ACM also learnt that there were going to be alarmingly few other representatives from our profession attending the event. 

A further review of the proposed agenda for the symposium revealed that just two of the fifty-eight presentations (i.e. less than 4%) were dedicated to midwifery. It is hard to accept that this symposium was focused on the needs of our profession and therefore an inappropriate forum for making plans as to the future workforce requirements of the distinct midwifery profession.

Midwifery and nursing are distinct professions with distinct evolving workforce requirements. With around 35,000 midwives registered, midwifery is a scaled part of our health system and our broader economy. Our profession is different and distinct from nursing and it would be inappropriate to have decisions made and white papers written for midwifery, by persons without a deep understanding of the profession and its evolving needs.

In declining to attend, ACM advised the CDNM of our concerns and recommended that it would be more appropriate in the International year of the Midwife and the Nurse to have a symposium with equal focus on both professions, or ideally a separate symposium for midwifery, in order to have the right input into decision making and white papers. ACM offered to provide the support needed to make this happen.

On 20th of March, the CDNM responded to ACM stating that “in line with government directives, the event has been postponed and an alternate date is currently being sourced.”  However, “...it has no plans to run a separate midwifery forum at any future time.”

This response is a typical example of the current environment.  Too often midwifery is represented by a ‘joint’ committee that has very little interest or expertise in midwifery, but is grossly unbalanced in their focus and expertise on nursing. We have the greatest respect for the nursing profession and recognise the invaluable work that nurses do, however, midwifery and nursing are two distinct professions – something recognised in the National Health Practitioner Law since 2017. It is vital that discussions around midwifery workforce planning be conducted by individuals and organisations with a passion for midwifery and in consultation with midwives. 

In a similar vein we have recently reached out to Minister Hunt requesting a separate Commonwealth Chief Midwife. We will keep you posted on the outcome of this work and our ongoing discussion with the CDNM.

You can read our full letter to Ms Tracey Moroney, Chair, Council of Deas Nursing and Midwifery here

The CDNM state that: “The council’s purpose is to represent the disciplines of nursing and midwifery in Australia and New Zealand in universities.”

If you wish to contact Ms Tracey Moroney and ask her why the Council of Deans Nursing and Midwifery isn’t fulfilling their purpose and taking their job seriously, you can contact her as follows:

Email: mailto:executive@cdnm.edu.au

Online fillable contact form: http://www.cdnm.edu.au/contact.html

We will continue to campaign for the midwifery profession to have the appropriate representation amongst health professionals and the community and where decisions are made for the future of the midwifery workforce.