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Empowering Indigenous voices in perinatal care

  • 09 May 2024
Chomer 21
Recipients of the Burnet Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship.

Integrating traditional Indigenous knowledge in perinatal health is crucial for improving the well-being of Indigenous mothers and babies. 

As a part of Burnet Institute’s dedication to health equity, we recently  sponsored Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers who work in perinatal health in Australia to attend the 2024 Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) Congress held in Christchurch, New Zealand in April.

Stacey Butcher, a proud Dhungutti/Gomeroi woman and midwifery lecturer at Charles Darwin University, said the scholarship had allowed her to meet Indigenous peers from diverse backgrounds and share their knowledge, skills, and expertise in a culturally supportive and safe environment.

“Research shows First Nations women having First Nations midwives will have better outcomes,” she said.

Ms Butcher said it was important to address the social determinants of health and the systemic barriers that Indigenous women faced in accessing healthcare.

“If we have safer spaces, we're going to have healthier mums and healthier babies. Those are the kinds of relationships a midwife can develop with a woman,” she said.

The annual PSANZ Congress provides the opportunity for experts from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand to come together to share, learn and network.

For the first time this year, the Congress included an Indigenous Hui where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Pasifika peoples and tangata whenua (Indigenous whanau Māori from Aotearoa New Zealand) met with the support of PSANZ, in this year’s theme of 'whiria te tangata', which translates to 'weave our people together'.

The scholarship is a part of Burnet’s commitment to building capacity and capability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research and public health.

Burnet Deputy Director Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Professor Caroline Homer AO is an advocate for all women, regardless of their background, to have access to a midwife during childbirth.

“Cultural safety and humility are essential in healthcare, and investing in midwifery care can lead to better maternal and child health outcomes,” Professor Homer said.