The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre was established in April 2019 and is dedicated to the late Molly Wardaguga, Burarra Elder, Aboriginal Midwife, Senior Aboriginal Health Worker and founding member of the Malabam (now Malal’a) Health Board in Maningrida, Arnhem Land.
The vision of the Centre is to support women’s cultural and birthing aspirations, especially in remote locations through research and use this to dismantle existing structural barriers that result in health inequities.
To respond to our First Nations industry partners aspirations, we have assembled a multidisciplinary team of experts across Australia to address inequities in the first 2,000 days (pregnancy to age five), including Indigenous methodology and knowledge holders, midwifery, nursing, inter-cultural communication, participatory action research, community development and investment, digital media, public health, health economist, biostatistician, sociology, anthropology, biostatistics, epidemiology, neonatology, implementation science, medicine, health services and translational research.
Study with us!
We have scholarships available including two scholarships for First Nations candidates up to $63,854 per year.
Eligible MWRC students in Masters of Research or Doctoral (PhD) studies are enrolled through the College of Nursing and Midwifery at Charles Darwin University.
The full list of MWRC Supervisors can be found on the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre site.
For all inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Title: Birthing on Country: RISE SAFELY in rural, remote and very remote Australia
Very remote: Site 2. Yolŋu Lands East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory (NT). Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, Yalu Aboriginal Corporation, Department of Health, NT, Gove and Darwin hospitals, Australian Doula College, Red Cross, Care Flight.
Remote: Site 3. Arrernte Lands, Central Australia, NT. Congress Alukura and NT Health, Alice Springs Hospital.
All sites: Students can also be based at the sites or in Molly Wardaguga Research Centre offices in Darwin, Alice Springs or Brisbane.
Our translational research project will establish Australia’s exemplar rural, remote and very remote Birthing on Country Services, to make a profound impact on Closing the Gap Target 2: First Nations children are born healthy and strong. This First Nations led, co-designed study aims to establish exemplar Birthing on Country maternal child health services in rural, remote and very remote Australia in 5 years. We will translate existing knowledge on culturally safe maternity care, that saw unprecedented success in an urban site, into three unique settings to increase protective factors for birthing women and babies across the first 1000 days, improve outcomes, focus on preventing preterm birth, and make a profound impact on multiple outcomes. Our interdisciplinary team includes cultural knowledge holders, CEOs, policy advisors, clinicians, managers, health service researchers and consumers.
We are currently seeking passionate Master and PhD students who are willing to undertake intellectual adventures and work on complex intercultural reproductive health topics. Our students become skilled in using decolonising, quantitative and qualitive methodologies; and gain first hand experience working in genuine relationship with the community. We offer students a supportive learning environment with expert mentorship and the chance to contribute towards making a more equitable World!
Our health services research includes qualitative and quantitative approaches in many areas in is underpinned by the RISE Framework that has four pillars with projects available in all areas:
The Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting Study
Building on Our Strengths (BOOSt)
Birthing on Country | Projects | Building on our strengths
Building on Our Strengths (BOOSt) is about developing and evaluating a Birthing On Country Service for First Nations Australians, with integrated Community Hub and Birth Centre, to determine effects on maternal and infant health outcomes
BOOSt is a 5-year NH&MRC funded action research, mixed-methods study that aims to develop, implement and evaluate Birthing on Country (BOC) services with First Nations Communities.
BOOSt has two broad components:
(i) development and implementation of new maternity services models
(ii) research and evaluation (including process evaluation, and a historical (baseline) cohort comparison).
BOOSt is being conducted across two settings: urban (Brisbane, QLD) and rural (Nowra, NSW), involving a redesign of maternity care, with pre- and post-intervention data being analysed to determine the impact on our primary and secondary outcomes. The new service models are phased, aiming for integrated Community hubs and birth centres.
BOOSt will determine the:
feasibility of establishing the Birthing on Country Service, inclusive of a birth centre, at each site
acceptability of services for women, their communities and health service providers (local and referral service)
clinical and cultural safety, effectiveness and cost of services
key processes in establishing the Birthing on Country Service and creating sustainability.
Additional to the maternity records data sets obtained for this study, we recruit women having First Nations babies to complete antenatal and postnatal surveys about their maternity care experiences and other relevant aspects of their lives. Qualitative interviews will be conducted with women and families accessing the services, and with healthcare providers and stakeholders, to inform changes and recommendations for service provision and planning.
Potential Project Topics:
My Story: Birthing on Country for women in the Illawarra/Shoalhaven
Birthing on Country: Stakeholder perspectives and experiences in rural NSW
Birthing on Country: Stakeholder perspectives and experience in urban Qld site
Birthing on Country for Dads
Perinatal outcomes: baseline data analysis (2013-2020)
Discrimination: exploring the impact of everyday discrimination and/or discrimination in the healthcare context
Connecting to Culture & identity
Decolonising in practice: exploration of intellectual and emotional work
Decolonising the health system and healthcare institutions in regional NSW
Caring for Mum on Country
Birthing on Country | Projects | Caring for Mum on Country
Caring for Mum on Country is a participatory action research project based in the remote First Nations community of Galiwin’ku and co-led by Yolŋu academic Associate Professor Elaine Ḻäwurrpa Maypilama and Dr Sarah Ireland. For the past three years the project has been busy:
Developing a community-based cohort of Indigenous doulas-childbirth companions who strengthen community support systems and reinvigorate sociocultural care practices. See: https://youtu.be/etfvPLRhjS8
Exploring strategies to increase reproductive health literacy at individual and community levels. See: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hpja.439
Empowering the community to participate and negotiate in the shaping of future reproductive healthcare that is healthy and culturally appropriate.
One of our achievements has been the production of a research documentary that is now screening around Australia. See Demand Films https://au.demand.film/djakamirr-caretaker-pregnancy-birth/ . We are excited as our project is moving into a second phase, in which we aim to work closely with community and regional stakeholders to redesign remote community maternity health services to better meet the needs of Yolŋu. Our redesign approach will be informed by a Birthing on Country implementation framework and privilege Yolŋu ways of being, doing and seeing.
We are currently seeking passionate Master and PhD students who are willing to undertake intellectual adventures and work on complex intercultural reproductive health topics. Our students become skilled in using decolonising, quantitative and qualitive methodologies; and gain firsthand experience working in genuine relationships with the community. We offer students a super supportive learning environment with expert Yolŋu mentorship and the chance to make a more equitable World!