Problem: There is increasing demand for capacity building among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) maternal and infant health workforce to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies; yet few studies describe the steps taken to mentor novice Indigenous researchers to contribute to creating a quality evidence-base in this space.
Background: The Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting study is a partnership project aimed at improving maternity services for Indigenous families in South East Queensland.
Aim: To describe our experience setting up a Participatory Action Research team to mentor two young Indigenous women as research assistants on the Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting study.
Methods: Case study reflecting on the first six months.
Findings: Participatory Action Research was a very effective method to actively mentor and engage all team members in reflective, collaborative research practice, resulting in positive changes for the maternity care service. The research assistants describe learning to conduct interviews and infant assessments, as well as gaining confidence to build rapport with families in the study. Reflecting on the stories shared by the women participating in the study has opened up a whole new world and interest in studying midwifery and child health after learning the difficulties and strengths of families during pregnancy and beyond.
Discussion: We encourage others to use Participatory Action Research to enable capacity building in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery workforce and in health research more broadly.