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Inclusive Perinatal Care: Amplifying Indigenous voices for better health outcomes

Joseph Guenzler -

Australian Indigenous researchers in perinatal health were recently sponsored by the Burnet Institute to participate in the 2024 Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) Congress in Christchurch, New Zealand.

This initiative aimed to incorporate traditional Indigenous knowledge for enhancing the well-being of Indigenous mothers and babies.

Proud Dhungutti/Gomeroi woman, Stacey Butcher, a midwifery lecturer at Charles Darwin University, expressed gratitude for the scholarship, which enabled her to collaborate with Indigenous peers from various backgrounds.

She highlighted the opportunity to exchange knowledge, skills, and expertise in a culturally supportive and safe setting.

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

She notes the importance 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," she said.

"Those are the kind of relationships that a midwife and a woman can develop."

The annual PSANZ Congress offers a platform for experts from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand to convene, exchange knowledge, and build professional connections.

This year marked a significant inclusion with the Indigenous Hui, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Pasifika peoples, and tangata whenua (Indigenous Māori from Aotearoa) gathered under the theme 'whiria te tangata', meaning 'weaving people together', supported by PSANZ.

The scholarship reflects Burnet's dedication to enhancing capacity and capability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research and public health.

Burnet's Deputy Director of Gender Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Professor Caroline Homer AO, staunchly advocates for equitable access to midwifery services for all women, irrespective of their backgrounds, 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.

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