Issue 7
Monday, 02 September 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Professor Sue Kildea (left) and Associate Professor Yvette Roe: redesigning maternity services for better outcomes for First Australians
Professor Sue Kildea (left) and Associate Professor Yvette Roe: redesigning maternity services for better outcomes for First Australians

Lecture to honour memory of Aboriginal health pioneer

By Andrew Hall

The College of Nursing and Midwifery’s Professor Sue Kildea and Associate Professor Yvette Roe will deliver a lecture celebrating the life and achievements of Senior Aboriginal health worker Molly Wardaguga on Casuarina campus tomorrow, 3 September.

The researchers are co-directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre – established to honour the memory and vision, and to continue the important work of the late Burarra Elder, Aboriginal midwife and Founding Member of the Malabam Health Board in Maningrida, Arnhem Land.

Professor Kildea said the presentation would provide an overview of Molly’s life and goals and explain how the new research centre was aspiring to honour her vision.

“Dr Roe and I collaborate in line with Molly’s ways of knowing and doing, by working side-by-side as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers to improve the health outcomes for mothers and babies.”  

Professor Kildea said that key to their approach was working in collaboration with communities on their priorities. 

“One such priority is when babies are born preterm, which is a World Health Organisation priority area requiring innovation and research,” she said. 

“Preterm rates for Aboriginal babies have not changed in more than 10 years and the Northern Territory has some of the highest rates in Australia.”

Published this year in The Lancet, the research centre team – working side-by-side with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and a tertiary hospital – has redesigned services and seen a reduction in preterm birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies by almost 50%. 

“These results are stunning, and the team is already testing replication in other settings,” Professor Kildea said.

“Our work is contributing to short- and long-term health gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and is always planned ‘with community for community’.” 

The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre is driving implementation of national policy, which recommends these “Birthing on Country” services are established and evaluated. 

The CDU Professorial Lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held at the CDU Theatre, Casuarina campus, 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday, 3 September (lecture will begin at 6pm). People should RSVP via E: CDUEvents@cdu.edu.au or T: 08 8946 6554.