The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at Charles Darwin University (CDU) is co-hosting the second National Birthing on Country Conference in Alice Springs on October 10-12, a decade after the inaugural event.
The conference announcement coincides with International Day of the Midwife (May 5), which celebrates the contributions the profession makes to women, babies, families, and our broader society.
Molly Wardaguga Research Centre (MWRC) Co-Director and CDU Professor of Midwifery Professor Sue Kildea said the event will see First Nations women, community advocates, scholars, and researchers gathering on Arrernte Lands in the Northern Territory to reflect on the achievements and challenges of returning maternity and childbirth services to First Nations communities.
“This year’s theme for International Day of the Midwife is 100 years of progress, but here in Australia First Nations midwives are part of a 60,000-year linage of birthing and pregnancy care practices,” Professor Kildea said.
“This is the world’s oldest midwifery culture.”
Professor Kildea said the conference, to be held in partnership with Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, is a chance to celebrate this long history, while also looking to the future.
“Birthing on Country is an international social justice movement that aims to redress colonisation through returning maternity services to First Nations communities and their control,” Professor Kildea said.
MWRC co-director and CDU Professor in Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a Njikena Jawuru women, said more attention needs to be paid to the benefits of providing comprehensive maternity services to First Nations women and families.
“Our communities deserve the best start in life, and we need midwives to achieve this outcome,” Professor Roe said.
The MWRC was established in April 2019 and was named after Burarra Elder and Aboriginal Midwife Molly Wardaguga. Molly was a Senior Aboriginal Health Worker and founding member of the Malabam (now Malal’a) Health Board in Maningrida, Arnhem Land.
According to Professor Roe, her work and mentoring in Aboriginal health and research and maternal and infant health has galvanised many advocates to improve maternity services for Indigenous Australians.
Molly's vision to support women’s cultural and birthing aspirations, especially those living in remote locations, will endure through the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre.
More details about the conference in October to come closer to the date.