Returning birthing services to communities and Aboriginal control: Aboriginal women of Shoalhaven Illawarra region describe how Birthing on Country is linked to healing

Yvette Roe, Melanie Briggs, Cherisse Buzzcott, Donna Hartz, Juanita Sherwood, Sue Kildea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: For almost three decades,
Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and
Welfare Aboriginal Corporation has provided
culturally safe and holistic wellbeing services to
the Illawarra Shoalhaven region, New South
Wales. Work towards “Birthing on Country” has
been a longstanding part of the Waminda’s
strategic direction. Method: Aboriginal ways of
knowing and doing informed the multiple
methods used. A desktop review of the grey
literature and online public databases, then six
community yarning circles were conducted in the
region. Participants were mothers, grandmothers,
community-controlled service providers, and
government health providers. A thematic analysis
was conducted by two researchers and a
Waminda staff member. Results: Five broad
themes were identified and informed the
recommendations: (a) redesign maternity and
child services, (b) establish a specific wellbeing
and birthing place, (c) invest in a clinically and
culturally exceptional workforce, (d) strengthen
family capacity as pivotal to long-term health and wellness for mother and baby, and (e) community ownership is fundamental.
Discussion: This service model reflects Aboriginal women’s
aspiration to have a choice for more culturally
safe care during pregnancy and birth. The new
model privileges Aboriginal knowledge of
pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting; which
is contrary to the current biomedical model of
maternity services available for Australian
women.
Conclusion: Waminda is best placed to
work strategically to implement and evaluate the
aspirations of the women and in doing so, has the
potential to change the life trajectory of
Aboriginal babies born in the Illawarra
Shoalhaven region.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)58-71
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Indigenous Wellbeing
Volume5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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