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Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights

Our people

Molly Institute Team

To respond to First Nations community aspirations, and our partners in industry, the Institute assembles a transdisciplinary team across Australia which include experts in the field of midwifery, nursing, inter-cultural communication, participatory action research, community development and investment, digital media, public health, health economy, biostatistics, sociology, anthropology, biostatistics, epidemiology, neonatology, implementation science, medicine, health services, translational research, and First Nations methodology and knowledge holders. 

Molly Institute Staff

Molly Institute Director, Professor of Indigenous Health, Yvette Roe, is a proud Njikena Jawuru woman who leads a dynamic and innovative, transdisciplinary team focusing on maternal health and social justice reform from a First Nations community driven perspective, translating research outcomes into practical solutions. 

Professor Yvette Roe

Director, Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights

Professor Yvette Roe is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, Western Australia. Yvette grew up in Darwin where she has strong family and friend connections. Yvette has more than 25 years' experience working in Aboriginal health. She was awarded her PhD, by the University of South Australia in November 2015.

Research profile

Professor Sue Kildea

Deputy-Director, Research & Innovation

Professor Sue Kildea is recognised internationally as a midwifery leader, a health services researcher and an advocate for returning birthing services to First Nations control, and rural and remote communities. She is passionate about the year before and after birth and see these as the best times to positively impact Mums, bubs and families for the best start in life. She uses research for social change and leads multi-site projects across Australia.

Research profile

Associate Professor Yu Gao

Deputy-Director, Data Integrity 

Associate Professor Yu Gao completed eight years of medical training in China and was awarded a Master of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2004. Yu practiced as a Resident Obstetrician in a large teaching hospital in China for a year before being chosen to conduct doctoral studies at Charles Darwin University, completing in 2008 (co-supervised by Prof Kildea).

Research profile

Professor Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama

Deputy-Director, First Nations Research Methodology

Professor Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama has recently joined the BOC CRE as a Senior Research Fellow. Lawurrpa will provide expertise in Indigenous (Yolgŋu) research methodology, Yolgŋu maternal, child health and wellbeing, Yolgŋu community engagement and the redesign of health services for the East Arnhem region and beyond. Lawurrapa has led and been involved in numerous research projects in education and community development.

Leshay Chong
Leshay Chong

National Program Manager, Australian Family Partnership Program National Support Service

Leshay is a proud Central & Eastern Arrernte woman from Mparntwe/Alice Springs. She has a background in Aboriginal health service management and working within Aboriginal community controlled organisations in the areas of primary health care, social supports services, education and training. Leshay’s training background and experience has been in the areas of public health with a focus on Indigenous health, social and cultural health determinants, research and evaluation, human resource management and Aboriginal economic autonomy and advancement. 

Ben Thomson
Ben Thomson

Business Services Manager 

Ben Thomson is an Aboriginal man from the Nunukul-Nughi people – part of the Quandamooka nation of Moreton Bay.  Ben grew up on country in the Wynnum area of Brisbane with strong family connections to North Stradbroke Island [Minjerriba].  His professional experience ranges in Aboriginal higher education, health, housing, and aged care. 

Associate Professor Sarah Ireland
S Ireland

Associate Professor, Innovation & Impact

Medical anthropologist, nurse and midwife, Dr Sarah Ireland is an early career researcher, with expertise in cross-cultural qualitative research methods, especially collaborative approaches with Aboriginal people. Her research methodologies are informed by social justice, health promotion, decolonising theories, public health, gender, woman-centred midwifery, culture and human rights disclosure.

Research profile  CDU snapshot video

Associate Professor Jyai Allen
Jyai Allen

Associate Professor, Translational Research

Dr Jyai Allen is a PhD qualified midwife, academic, and maternity care researcher with clinical expertise in midwifery continuity of care and midwifery-led settings. She has research expertise in mixed methods, service redesign, implementation and evaluation. Most recently Jyai provided research consultancy to the Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer to assist in the development of a co-designed statewide normal birth strategy and implementation plan. For the next 6 months, she will be co-designing and developing a national toolkit for Birthing on Country that can be locally adapted. Additionally, Jyai will be assist with writing the outputs of the Best Start to Life Gathering 2022, including the conference report.

Loris Muir
Loris Muir

Senior Research Support Coordinator

Loris is a Research Assistant at the Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights. She has a Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery and completed a Graduate Certificate in Public Health in 2021. She will be working closely with Dr Sarah Ireland  to provide secretariat support to the Birthing on Country project.

Rosemary Gundjarranbuy
Rosemary Gundjarranbuy

Birthing on Country Research Fellow - Rosemary Gundjarraŋbuy is a Birthing on Country Research Fellow within the Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights. She currently lives in Galiwin’ku and is a well respected person in the Garrawurra clan and the community. Gundjarranbuy has approximately 35 years experience in teaching at bilingual schools. She has also worked in community roles with elderly and disadvantaged youth. Her previous 10 year role at Yalu Aboriginal Corporation as Manager has provided Gundjarraŋbuy with the knowledge and experience of collaborating and engaging communities. During that time, she worked on a number of research and service delivery projects including 'Sharing the Full and True Stories about Chronic Conditions Project' which was in partnership with CDU, and projects relating to early childhood and engagement in higher education.

Sarah Maidment

Community Researcher - A proud Arrente woman & community researcher, Sarah grew up and lived most her life in Alice Springs. Sarah is a Community Research Assistant at The Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights, Charles Darwin University on The Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting (IBUS) Study. Sarah has worked with the team for three years (2016-present).

Kelsie Kahl
Kelsie Kahl

Research AssistantKelsie is a Research Assistant at the Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights. Kelsie is also studying a Master of Public Health and is passionate about First Nations health sovereignty, health equity, social justice and community-led research that utilises decolonising methodologies to centre and privilege First Nations voices and agency.

Res McCalman

Research Assistant - Res brings enormous experience to the team as an Aboriginal midwife and is completing a PhD at the Judith Lumley Centre which focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and newborns. She worked with La Trobe University alongside a team of experienced researchers on a project named Woman’s Journey: “Baggarrook Yurrongi, Nuraagh Manma Buliana”.

Associate Professor Cameron Hurst
Cameron Hurst

Biostatistician / Epidemiologist

Associate Professor Cameron Hurst’s research interests are in Biostatistics (Longitudinal observational studies, Clinical trials, Computational statistics, Multivariate and Machine learning classification, and Psychometrics) and Epidemiology (Chronic diseases, Mothers and Babies, Clinical epidemiology, Social epidemiology and Vector-borne diseases). He is both an experienced educator and researcher and over the course of his career has worked extensively across the full spectrum of health studies ranging from biomedical research through to clinical and population health studies. While primarily a methodologist, he has a particular passion for work in the area of chronic disease (esp. diabetes) in resource-limited health care settings and/or vulnerable populations.

Dr Emily Armstrong
Emily Armstrong

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Innovation

Dr Emily Armstrong has joined the team as a Post Doc Research Fellow and will be working on the Galiwin’ku research program. She recently completed her PhD which explored the perspectives of Yolŋu (Aboriginal) families and early childhood service providers (e.g. health providers, educators) about respectful and effective intercultural communication. Over the last seven years, Emily has also been working on a variety of other collaborative projects researching intercultural communication in health and education contexts. She and her Yolŋu colleagues regularly co-facilitate workshops on intercultural communication.

Dr Isabella Garti
Isabella Garti

Research Fellow 

Dr. Isabella Garti is an early career midwifery researcher with over 12 years of experience as an educator and researcher in Africa. She holds a PhD from Charles Darwin University, focusing on informing midwifery service planning and education in LMICs by exploring factors influencing midwives’ care for women with pre-eclampsia. Isabella excels in both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, employing a meticulous approach to project management to support impactful program endeavours. Aspiring to be a leading voice in midwifery research, Isabella is interested in research focusing on evidence-based practice, midwifery-led care, culturally safe maternity care, undergraduate midwifery education, and innovative continuing professional development approaches.

Megan Barker
Megan Barker

Lead, RISE Education

Megan is an experienced midwife who has worked in midwifery continuity models of care. Over the past 15 years, she has gained extensive experience in health service leadership including development and delivery of staff training packages. In addition, she brings a wealth of education design and teaching experience within Master and Bachelor of Midwifery programs in the university sector. Most recently Megan worked as the Program Director of Queensland Maternity Education, contextualising and improving accessibility of maternity education to regional, rural, and remote areas of Queensland.


Mpho Dube
m dube

Midwife, educator & PhD Student, Mpho is a lecturer of midwifery in the Faculty of Health. Mpho has 15 years of clinical midwifery practice and has worked as a clinical midwife in Darwin and Africa. Mpho was born and raised in rural Zimbabwe and she migrated to Australia in 2006. Mpho attained her midwifery qualification at CDU and completed a Master of International Health degree with Curtin University. Mpho is passionate about women's empowerment and maternal health. 

Anvitaa Chadha
A Chadha

Anvitaa is a dentist with a Master’s in Health Services Administration and a keen interest in Health Economics and Health Policy. Anvitaa is currently undertaking a PhD at the Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights, to conduct an economic evaluation of the Birthing in Our Country service and its long term benefits to the First Nations mums and bubs.

Breeanna Spring
Breeanna Spring Walsh

Clinical Research Coordinator at the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, Federation Office. RN / RM, MACN, MACM, Member of the HiPPP EMR-Collective. Adjunct Lecturer at James Cook University Townsville, College of Public Health, Medical & Veterinary Sciences, in the Public Health & Topical Medicine discipline. Extensive Flight Nurse experience throughout rural and remote Northern Australia. Critical Care Nursing & Midwifery background in ICU/CCU/HDU/NICCU. Passionate researcher in the remote, prehospital and aeromedical field. Previous research and current PhD topic aims to improve remote, prehospital, aeromedical maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Honorary Appointments

Associate Professor Donna Hartz
donna hartz

A descendent of the Kamilaroi (Gomeroi) nation, a nurse, a midwife and an educator, Donna has 34 years’ experience as a clinician, educator, lecturer, manager, consultant and researcher. She is currently the Associate Professor in Midwifery and Associate Dean Indigenous Leadership at the Faculty of Health at Charles Darwin University.  She is passionate about working with Communities to improve the well-being and future for our First Nation peoples.

Mel Briggs
M Briggs

Mel is an Aboriginal woman descending from the Gumbangirr and Dharawal nations. She lives in Wandandian country within the Yuin Nation. Having completed a Bachelor of Midwifery and Master of Primary Maternity Care, Mel is the Midwife and Birthing on Country Project Officer for the Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation. Mel is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of her people and is responsible for coordinating the Shoalhaven Birthing on Country model from a community perspective to ensure the community voices are being heard and put into practice.

Liz Wilkes
L wilkes

Liz has been a midwife since 1995 and has been in private practice for the past 16 years. Liz is well known for her lobbying and advocacy at all levels of government and she was in the first group of Medicare midwives in Australia.  Her main levels of acumen are in policy and business development.  She has an MBA from Griffith University. Liz is currently the Managing Director of My Midwives and her midwifery goal is to ensure that every woman in Australia has a midwife who she knows providing care in birth. Liz is passionate that every woman feels informed, safe, respected and cared for during this special time.

Professor Sally Tracy
S Tracy

Sally Tracy is the Professor of Midwifery at the University of Sydney and conjoint Professor of Midwifery, School of Women's and Children's Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW. She has published widely on the epidemiology of preterm birth; birth centre care; admission to neonatal care and the safety of midwifery group practice and stand-alone maternity units. Educated in midwifery in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, Sally was awarded the world’s first professional doctorate in midwifery in 2003. She was one of 15 clinicians across Australia appointed to the inaugural Clinical Advisory Committee of the national Independent Hospital Pricing Authority of Australia. 

Professor Lesley Barclay

Emeritus Professor Lesley Barclay AO began her career as a midwife but recently has become known an educator, health services researcher and systems reformer. Her work has improved maternal child health services in urban and remote Australia and internationally. Professor Barclay has led NHMRC and ARC grants with many being rural, remote or Indigenous focussed.

Associate Professor Nigel Lee
N Lee

Nigel is a midwifery researcher and lecturer. Prior to his academic appointment he had 30 years of clinical practice working in metropolitan and regional hospitals around Australia and the United Kingdom. He completed his PhD in 2013, researching sterile water injection techniques for the management of back pain in labour. His research into the use of water injections to relieve pain in labour continues alongside studies into supporting physiological labour and birth.

Associate Professor Robyn Thompson
R thompson

Robyn is a registered midwife, nurse and family, child and maternal health nurse (MCaFHN) with 50 years experience.  She was awarded a PhD for her research into why so many women were experiencing painful nipple trauma in the early postnatal period. She is also the founder of the gentle and intuitive method of breastfeeding known as The Thompson Method and has been influential in helping women all over the world strengthen their resolve in themselves and their instinctive skills.  In June 2023, Robyn was honoured to receive the Order of Australia Medal in recognition of her contribution to midwifery and breastfeeding.

Dr Sue Moore
S Moore

Dr Sue Moore is a  public health researcher with a keen interest in addressing health service disparities. Sue worked as a nurse in Alice Springs for more than 10 years before moving into research, including undertaking a post-doctoral fellowship at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France. She has work on numerous large scale competitively funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer and cardiac research programs, as an epidemiologist in the Queensland Health COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, and more recently as the Program Manager of the Birthing on Country Centre for Research Excellence in the Molly Wardaguga Institute for First Nations Birth Rights.

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