Maternity services come under critical review

24 September 2008

Two prominent researchers have called for the Federal Government to review current sub-par maternal services in rural and remote Australia.

Charles Darwin University (CDU) researchers, Professor Lesley Barclay and Associate Professor Sue Kildea have called for improvements to Australia’s maternity services in a rural and remote context to ensure all Australian women have access to high-quality, safe maternity services.

Professor Barclay and Dr Kildea have contributed significantly through submissions to the recently launched discussion paper on improving maternity services in Australia. Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon launched the discussion paper as part of the Prime Minister’s development of a national action plan for maternity services.

Professor Barclay said the paper highlighted the poor state of remote and rural maternal services currently in effect.

“The paper canvasses a wide range of issues including the high mortality rates for Indigenous women and the poor access to maternity care for rural women,” she said.

“Maternity services in a remote context are not as good as they could be, and this Discussion Paper is part of the way forward. It canvases suggestions for models for rural and remote Australia.”

Professor Barclay said it was pleasing that she and Dr Kildea, as researchers and members of the Australian College of Midwives, were able to influence the agenda and content of the discussion paper to make sure needs of remote Australian and Indigenous women would be addressed.

"Midwives contribute significantly to maternity care delivered to families in Australia,” Professor Barclay said.

“It is important that mothers and babies can access this care, particularly in rural and remote areas. This could be achieved if they were better able to access the services of midwives through a properly funded model."

Dr Kildea will travel to Canberra for a series of round table discussions to identify the key gaps in current services, determine what is needed to deliver change, and help set national priorities.


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