Sunday, May 3, 2009

Celebrating our Land, our People and our Profession:

Australian College of Midwives WA Branch celebrated IMD on Saturday 2nd May at UWA. There were approximately 60 participants, women, midwives, student midwives, and allied health professionals. Being MC for the day was a challenge, with last minute program changes, and the dreaded IT problems – what a nightmare when technology fails you on these occasions. Just when you think you have it all covered, something else happens; computer not talking to the data projector, then the data projector bulb going, microphone interference and finally the sound not working...............................................................despite these things the day went well. The food was great!

It was a fantastic day, the focus in the morning was on Indigenous Women’s Health and the afternoon included a laughter workshop and a panel discussion on the Maternity Services Review.

To set the scene Justina Smith (Aboriginal Musical Theatre - Noongar Culture) began the session with a beautiful Aboriginal traditional dance, which had everyone captivated.

The welcome to Country was conducted by Kerry-Anne Winmar a Nyungar Yorga Woman. It was all truly fascinating, very spiritual and I was left with goose bumps.

The dynamic Cheryl Hayward(Noongar) presented Aboriginal communities a WA perspective: Points that stuck in my mind were: It was interesting to see that 2.99% of the WA population are Aboriginal and of that 42% live in the Metropolitan area. Also that there are many different Aboriginal languages and Aboriginal people will often read your body language first then listen to your words. Most importantly there is no one single Aboriginal culture. Lastly the word ‘Noongar’ ‘Nyungar’ can be spelt differently.

Unfortunately the Aboriginal elders were unable to share their birth stories with us today due to illness, this was disappointing but these things do happen. On the note of birth stories, it is good to see that the Noongar women are getting together and collating these stories from the elders and the women who have birthed on the country so that they will be able to be passed on and kept for prosperity.

Lesley Nelson presented her Masters on Analytic Epidemiological Study- Indigenous Health then with and Karen Kruit, presented the proposed Maternity Group Practice for Aboriginal Women. They have done some incredible work so watch this space.................. to see how they progress.

The last session before lunch was presented by Dr Heather Hancock 'Making a difference for Aboriginal Women'. Heather reminded us that International Midwives Day is a day of celebration for midwives to celebrate what an important role we play in the process of pregnacy, labour, birth and giving women and families informed choices. "we are indeed so honoured and should feel incredibly humbled".
Heather also highted aspects of the Maternity Report that related to Indigenous women. "changes to support the expansion of collaborative models of care, improved access for rural and Indigenous mothers". She also reviewed health statistics for
Aborginal Women and infant mortality, and discussed issues surrounding,cultrual differences, fear,risk, co-existing issues, choice and strategies. Heather ended with the need for Midwives to be happy in their life & work. An inspiring presentation.

The most important thing on these days is to get the catering correct and I think we did this well. UWA did a great job. The food was excellent; present very well, nice moist orange poppy seed cake and fresh fruit for morning tea served with fresh brewed coffee (that’s very important for me, none of the instant rubbish). For those who don’t like coffee, a good selection of teas were available together the old favourite, water.

After lunch was the presentation by Johnson & Johnson for Midwife of the Year Award WA winner - This was won by
Marion Cavanagh, SJOG Subiaco.
Unfortunatley Marion was unable to attend due to being sick. Congratulations Marion from the ACM WA Branch, well done.

The Laughter workshop was the most unpredictable in terms of knowing whether the participants would stay for it. As it works out the majority of people did stay and appeared to enjoy it. I personally don’t like this sort of thing, but as I liked the rest of the program so it was worth just doing it. I still can’t say it is my cup of tea, but did enjoy throwing the tantrum without any consequences.

Saving the best for last was the Maternity Review Report panel discussion: The main areas covered were National Registration 2010, Indemnity Insurance for Private Midwives, Medicare number, and the need for midwives to come together to achieve better outcomes for women.

Great to see the students attending the day.

It is time now for midwives to become political, pro-active and take our profession forward. We are in an era of change, with the recent Nurses & Midwives Act 2006, the Nurses & Midwives Board change of name and the Maternity Report that recommends that midwives play a more active role.

This is the time for all midwives to spread the word, send letters to our politicians and generally educate the public on the role of the Midwife.

Thank you to everyone that attended and made this day a tremendous success.


"You are a midwife, assisting at someone else's birth. Do good without show or fuss. Remember to be Happy and Joyous" Heather Hancock


  1. Fantastic photos- great to see so many students attending the day.
    Well done to the ACM Education Committee for all their hard work - have just completed the survey above. Great idea - hope everyone gets on and gives you feedback/suggestions for upcoming events.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed attending this day, and from a student's perspective it was so good to be able to join in, learn and to be made to feel 'a part' of this wonderful calling. I am also passionate about the health of our Indigenous people and so was really interested in listening to the speakers. It was really good to listen to Leslie and Karen talking about the proposed group practice for Aboriginal women and I really, really hope that this approach is successful. I was in awe listening to Heather Hancock and so inspired to ‘get out there’ and learn. I am only sorry I missed the laughter workshop as I believe laughter is the best medicine and always look forward to a good dose! Thank you for delivering such a great program and encouraging us students to be a part of it. Ps : The food was scrumptious – another very important plus!
    Deborah Julius


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