Enabling the context for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Birthing on Country services: Participatory action research

Yvette Roe, Jyai Allen, Penny Haora, Sophie Hickey, Melanie Briggs, Liz Wilkes, Carmel Nelson, Kristie Watego, Rebecca Coddington, Sarah Ireland, Sue Kruske, Yu Gao, Sue Kildea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Downloads (Pure)


Problem: Establishment of Birthing on Country services owned and governed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services has been slow. Background: Birthing on Country services have demonstrated health and cost benefits and require redesign of maternity care. During the Building On Our Strengths feasibility study, use of endorsed midwives and licensing of birth centres has proven difficult. Question: What prevents Community Controlled Health Services from implementing Birthing on Country services in Queensland and New South Wales? Methods: Participatory action research identified implementation barriers. We conducted iterative document analysis of instruments to inform government lobbying through synthesis of policy, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors. Findings: Through cycles of participatory action research, we analysed 17 documents: 1) policy barriers prevent Community Controlled Health Services from employing endorsed midwives to provide intrapartum care in public hospitals; 2) economic barriers include lack of sustainable funding stream and inadequate Medicare-billing for endorsed midwives; and 3) legal barriers require a medical practitioner in a birth centre. While social barriers (e.g., colonisation, medicalisation) underpin regulations, these were beyond the scope; technological and environmental barriers were not identified. Discussion: Findings are consistent with the literature on barriers to midwifery practice. Recommendations include a national audit of barriers to Birthing on Country services including healthcare practice insurance, and development of a funding stream. Additionally, private maternity facility regulation must align with evidence on safe birth centre operation. Conclusion: Government can address barriers to scale-up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Birthing on Country services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalWomen and Birth
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2023

Cite this