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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


  • 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 multisite projects across Australia.

    Research profile

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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).

  • 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 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.