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Molly Wardaguga Research Team
The Molly Wardaguga Research Team (L-R; Kayla Heinemann, Luciana Massi, Yvette Roe, Sarah Ireland, Sue Kildea, Birri O’Dea, Sarah Maidment, Sophie Hickey

Molly Wardaguga Research Centre Staff

  • Sue Kildea

    Co-Director of The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Sue 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

  • Yvette Roe

    Co-Director of The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, 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

  • Yu Gao

    Statistical and Health  Economics Lead, 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

  • Sophie Hickey

    Mixed-methods early career researcher at the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Dr Sophie Hickey is an applied sociologist who currently manages the IBUS Study - a large longitudinal cohort study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and children in Brisbane designed to provide feedback to local service providers to improve maternity care. The new model of care resulted in a profound reduction in preterm birth.

    Research profile

  • Sarah Maidment

    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 research Centre, Charles Darwin University on The Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting (IBUS) Study. Sarah has worked with the team for three years (2016-present).

  • Kayla Heinemann

    A proud Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander woman, Kayla is the Executive Research Assistant of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre. From 2016-2019, Kayla was a Community Research Assistant on the Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting (IBUS) Study.

  • Belinda Lequertier

    Dr Belinda Lequertier is a researcher with an interest in infant and child development and maternal mental health.  She is passionate about research that identifies and supports strengths and protective factors to enhance child and family wellbeing.  Belinda’s background is in clinical psychology, and she continues to work in private practice with children, young people and families.

  • Sarah Ireand

    Medical anthropologist, nurse and midwife, Sarah 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-centered midwifery, culture and human rights disclosure.

    Research profile

  • Mel 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.

  • Penny Haora

    Midwife and early career researcher and currently at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation (Yuin Country), Penny's work is centered around maternal, early years, and primary care research and evaluation in diverse contexts.  Penny is committed to decolonizing birthing for Indigenous women and communities, and revaluing Indigenous knowledges. Interested in reducing health inequities, cultural safety, cultural legitimacy and governance, organisational cultures.

    Research profile

  • Jenne Roberts

    Jenne has worked in Women’s Health policy, program design, management and evaluation for the last thirty years. Her client-driven research and evaluation provides an evidence base for assessing the current and long term effectiveness of programs and providing strategic advice to drive innovation and future investment.  Jenne specialises in programs where gender inequality, stigma and discrimination drive vulnerability and epidemics, for example, programs addressing maternal and infant health, Indigenous health and wellbeing, sexual and reproductive health, and infectious diseases that threaten global security (HIV, TB and other blood-borne viruses). Jenne’s work engages affected communities and partners throughout the project, combining human rights, evidence-based and public health approaches. Jenne has lived and worked extensively in Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

    Staff profile

  • Lizzie Luland

    A proud South Coast Walbunja/Wodi Wodi and Birpi woman, Lizzy works in the Birthing on Country and Minga Goodjaga (Mums and Bubs) Program at Waminda as the BOOSt Research Assistant. Lizzy also sits on the Waminda Cultural Advisory Committee and has worked for Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council as a Senior Ethics Project officer for the Ethics Committee and Administration and attended Centre for Ethics in Medicine & Society Centre.

  • Mpho Dube

    Midwife, educator & PhD Student, Mpho is a lecturer of midwifery in the College of Nursing & Midwifery. 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. 

  • cnatip - dr suzanne moore headshot

    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 working on numerous large scale competitively funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer and cardiac research programs, and lately as an epidemiologist in the Queensland Health COVID-19 emergency response team.

Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program National Support Service

  • Steph O'Shea

    Stephanie has over 30 years’ experience in Nursing and Midwifery. Stephanie values the opportunity to positively impact the experience of a mother and family during the birth of a baby. Stephanie has worked as a Midwife for Birthing In our Community and has also worked for 2.5 years in the ANFPP in the urban setting. She is committed to providing a comprehensive education for ANFPP staff to ensure positive outcomes are achieved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

  • Professor of Primary Health Care Sue Kruske in Alice Springs

    Professor, midwife and child health nurse, Sue Kruske has worked in the primary care setting for over 30 years. She has contributed to health services in a variety of roles and settings including clinical, policy, education and research. She has a background in midwifery and child health nursing and worked for many years in remote Indigenous communities. From 2014 to 2019, Sue was the Regional Manager of Maternal and Child Health for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in Brisbane.

    Research profile

  • Sandy Campbell

    Aboriginal public health researcher with Masters (ANU) and PhD (UniSA) qualifications in epidemiology, Sandy was born on Mandandanji country her Indigenous ancestry follows her father’s family line. Sandy has a professional background in nursing and midwifery and her quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation skills are built on a foundation of providing clinical care and health promotion in Aboriginal communities in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Victoria.

  • Kym Cunningham

    Clinical lead for the ANFPP Support service, Kym has spent the last 30 years as a Registered Nurse and has a passion for child and family nursing and nurse education. Kym has over 8 years’ experience with the ANFPP in a range of roles and settings.  Kym is committed to supporting positive program outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through dynamic education, staff retention, clinical supervision and strong leadership.

  • Nikki McGrady

    A proud descendant of the Gamiliaroi (Gomeroi) people of Toomelah northern NSW and has worked in various consultant and health roles throughout SE Queensland and NSW. Nikki is the Family Partnership Program Educator and Consultant for the ANFP Program and worked as a Family Partnership Worker for two years. Nikki is currently completing her Bachelor of Nursing and has a desire to work in child and maternal health.

  • Mursal Azami

    Mursal is the Senior Program Manager for ANFPP Support Service, she brings a wealth of corporate knowledge to successfully lead key projects at NSS. She is a Master’s qualified Public Health graduate with a Diploma in Project Management. She has a keen interest in working on a program that aims to improve the health outcomes in Aboriginal maternal, newborn and child health. She hopes to contribute to the continued success of ANFPP and make significant contribution.

  • Emma Brodie

    Data and Quality Analyst with the ANFPP, Emma has a background in Health Science, IT and Education, with a particular passion for data systems and data analysis.  Emma has been working in a similar role with ANFPP for the past three years, contributing technical, data and project skills broadly across the Program.

  • Rae Jones

    As a Perinatal clinical psychologist, Rae Jones has worked with women and their children for the last 10 years. In addition to her research in the special care nursery, Rae has studied various wisdom traditions deeply and loves having conversations about the human spirit. Prior to moving to NSW in 2017, Rae worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in South East Qld for a few years and joins the ANFPP team as a Senior Practitioner in Perinatal and Parenting.

  • Belinda Kruger

    A proud descendant of the Dunghutti people of the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Belinda has a background in Government and Education administration with a range of roles spanning 30 years. As Program Administrator with the ANFPP, she is committed to supporting ANFPP staff in an administrative capacity to contribute to successful program outcomes.

  • Nzie Okpokam

    Technical Lead for the ANFPP Support Service, Nzie (pronounced, Inzay) has spent the last 20 years in IT and data management sectors. Nzie has been involved with ANFPP in a range of roles since 2018. Nzie is committed to supporting positive program outcomes for ANFPP.

  • As a communications specialist, Netta holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) and is completing a Master of Communication (Journalism). She has worked for government and the not-for-profit sector in family and disability services, health, education and infrastructure. She is also a freelance journalist, author, speaker and anti-domestic violence advocate who is passionate about the need for Indigenous women and women of colour to have their voices heard. As a mum of three jarjums and the Communications Officer for ANFPP Support Service, Netta is committed to lifting the profile of this groundbreaking initiative to support tiddas to fulfil their deadly potential.  


  • Nerida Grant

    Nurse, midwife & masters student, Nerida has worked since 2013 at Kirketon Road Centre, a primary health clinic in Sydney providing accessible and appropriate care to people who are marginalised from mainstream services. As a midwife, Nerida is committed to reclaiming birth for women. Nerida is excited to have recently started my Masters by Research with the team at MWRC, supporting the work of Waminda transforming maternity care for Aboriginal women and their families.

  • Luciana Massi

    Luciana is passionate about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and services. She is undertaking a PhD through the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and evaluating strengths-based programs to improve health and birthing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and babies.

    A birthing tree and a safe place for growing healthy babies” Virtual 3MT Thesis Runner Up – Luciana Massi, PhD Candidate, MWRC, CDU


  • Birri O'Dea

    Birri O’Dea is a Kungalu and Birri-Gubba (Wiri) woman, with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree and a background in business (MBA) that focussed on human resources and performance measurement and management.  Birri is currently undertaking her PhD at the Centre, focussing on improving family preservation and restoration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have come in contact with child protective services during pregnancy.

  • Fleur Magick Dennis

    Nyimirr (Fleur) is a Wiradjuri and Ngemba/Wayilwan Woman through her mother and grandmother.  Fleur’s father is English. Fleur is an active member of her First Nations’ communities participating in local Aboriginal land councils and Aboriginal community organisations. Fleur has been actively involved in decolonisation with her peoples through her roles in the maintenance & revival of the Wiradjuri and Ngemba/Wayilwan languages, knowledges, cultures & spiritual practices including women's business and cultural birthing over the last 20 years. Fleur's PhD is exploring decolonisation of birthing and parenting practices by Aboriginal women. The research intends to support Waminda and all Aboriginal women to establish further evidence towards the importance of "Birthing On Country" models of care and practice for Aboriginal women in Australia.

  • Loretta Anderson

    In term infant’s, studies have shown that early breastfeeding, within one hour of birth, is correlated with extended breastfeeding duration and a full milk supply. Women producing human milk for their preterm infant must manually express milk either by hand or electric pump; this is not as effective as a newborn suckling and can lead to a delay in lactogenesis II (initiation of copious milk production). As a result of this delay a mother may experience a decrease in milk supply and an increased incidence of early breastfeeding problems, such as engorgement or mastitis. The literature reports various recommendations for initiating expressing for mothers of preterm infants such as, manual extraction techniques and the use of breast massage to enhance lactation. Timing of expressing and the most effective combination for removing milk to maintain milk supply and prevent problems are yet to be determined. A systematic review was conducted as a phase of this research to understand the problems breastfeeding mothers face and has informed the development of this study. To further determine the techniques of breast massage and timing of expressing for mothers of preterm infants a pilot randomised control trial was undertaken. The results of this pilot study highlighted barriers to women expressing within the first hour due to clinical and organisational issues. For example, expressing was delayed due to prioritising care of preterm infant and time constraints due to high throughput. Therefore, a qualitative phase of this research was developed and aims to explore these issues further to gain a better understanding of feasibility of early expressing and what issues impact the compliance of early expressing.

Honorary Appointments

  • 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 College of Nursing and Midwifery 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

    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

    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.

  • Sally 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. Prof Tracy currently represents the Western Pacific region on the core group preparing the third global State of the World’s Midwifery report (SoWMy 2021) funded through the WHO. The first paper from this report, the “Impact of Midwives” – provides new estimates on the potential impact of midwives on reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths. This paper will be published in the Lancet Global Health on 1 December (it’s embargoed until then), and will be launched by UNFPA and the WHO in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC.) Prof Tracy is leading the ICM/UNFPA Global Survey into Covid 19 to determine the impact and response of 143 Midwives Associations in 124 countries funded by UNFPA. Nationally Prof Tracy chairs the revisions of the National Midwifery Guidelines for Consultation and Referral, which are endorsed by RANZCOG and recommended by MIGA and state health departments for use in all states and territories in Australia (4th edition due in early 2021). In 2006 she co-authored and co-edited the first midwifery textbook (now the core text book in schools of midwifery in NZ and Australia). The fifth edition of Pairman, Tracy, Dahlen, Dixon Midwifery; Preparation for Practice is underway for publication 2021. Prof Tracy is a member of a team based at Westmead Hospital specializing in research around resuscitation immediately after birth. The team invented ResusRight - the world’s first miniaturised battery driven lung function monitor designed to reduce the stress in “getting resuscitation right” immediately following birth. The small LCD screen icons display critical information relating to air leak and breath volume according to the size of the infant ensuring the clinician is not over-delivering or under-delivering volume, both of which can lead to death or disability. The monitor is designed to be used by first responders at birth in both developing and resource rich contexts.

  • 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.

  • Nigel 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.

  • Robyn Thompson

    Dr Robyn Thompson is an experienced midwife, family, child and maternal health nurse MCaFHN, breastfeeding specialist and was awarded a PhD for her research into why so many women were experiencing painful nipple trauma in the early postnatal period. Thousands of women and their babies have experienced the benefits of her gentle and intuitive method of breastfeeding known as The Thompson Method. She is a midwife called upon by midwives and has been influential in helping women all over the world strengthen their resolve in themselves and their instinctive skills.

    Robyn has spent almost 6 decades in the Australian Health System and at 76 years of age, does not look like slowing down any time soon. In fact, she’s just getting started.