Dr Sarah Ireland

RN, RM, BSs, Grad Dip Mid, Hons1, PhD

Research and Evaluation Fellow

Dr Sarah Ireland is a medical anthropologist, nurse and midwife. Sarah’s research expertise is in 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 discourse. She is an associate editor of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia and the 2018 recipient of the Rowan Nicks Russel Drysdale fellowship.

Sarah has First Class Honours and a Doctorate in the field of medical-anthropology, both on the topic of Aboriginal women’s sexual and reproductive health. She is also an accomplished nurse and midwife; and has trained in community development. Prior to academic appointment, Sarah practiced nursing and midwifery in remote locations both in Nepal and through Australia in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Research interests

  • cross-cultural qualitative research and evaluation methods
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • medical anthropology
  • Indigenous health and well-being
  • midwifery and childbirth

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Research Projects

Current Projects

Caring For Mum on Country: A participatory-action-research project building capacity and reproductive health literacy. Funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government through the Aboriginal Benefits Account.

The Ngami Adnya Project: Increasing women’s reproductive health literacy from an Adnyamathanha perspective. Collaboration with members of the South Australian Adnymathanha community including Dr Jillian Marsh, from La Trobe University, Victoria. Funded by the Rowan Nicks Russel Drysdale Fellowship.

IMPRESS Study: Women’s experiences of telehealth abortion in Australia. A collaboration with Associate Professor Suzanne Belton, Menzies School of Health Research and Dr Frances Doran, Southern Cross University, New South Wales.

Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment Project. A collaboration with Professor James Smith, Menzies School of Health Research, Ms Kim Robertson, Charles Darwin University and the Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment Working Group, Northern Territory. 

Publications & Resources


Doctoral Thesis
Paperbark and Pinard: A cultural and historical exploration of female reproduction in one remote northern-Australian Aboriginal Town. http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:59856

Honours Thesis
Niyith Niyith Watmum-The Quiet Story: Exploring the experiences of Aboriginal women who give birth in a remote community

Journal Articles

Ireland,S., Belton,S., McGrath, A., Saggers, S., & Narjic, C.(2015). Paperbark and pinard: A historical account of maternity care in one remote Australian Aboriginal town. Women Birth. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2015.06.002

Ireland,S., Belton,S., & Saggers, S.(2015). The logics of planned birthplace for remote Australian Aboriginal women in the northern territory: A discourse and content analysis of clinical practice manuals. Midwifery. (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2015.06.005i

Ireland, S., Narjic, C.W., Belton, S., Saggers, S. & McGrath, A. (2014). ‘Jumping Around’: exploring young women’s behaviours and knowledge in relation to sexual health in a remote Aboriginal Australian community. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 17 (1), DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2014.937747

Ireland, S., Narjic, C., Belton, S. & Kildea, S. Niyith Niyith Watmam: The Quiet Story: Exploring the experiences of Aboriginal women who give birth in their remote community; Midwifery Journal.

Conference Paper/presentations

Ireland. S., Coleman, R. & Whiting, R. (2018). Learning from the past to strengthen the future: 65,000 years of Aboriginal midwifery. Conference Paper. Call of the Mockingbird: Responding to maternal mental health concerns in the perinatal period. Western Sydney University, 14 February 2018.

Robertson,K., Ireland, S. & Larkin, S. (2017). Reflecting on the Rhetoric: An exploration of Indigenous academics professional experiences in Australian universities. Conference Paper. Australian Association for Research in Education Conference. Hotel Realm Canberra. 26-30 November 2017.

Ireland, S. & Narjic, C. (2017) LARC Without Borders: A remote and regional perspective. Conference Paper. Invited speaker- Pushing Boundaries: Reproductive health for young people at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference: Canberra 4-10 November.

Ireland, S. & Belton, S. (2016). Sex out bush: Exploring the legal obstacles and sociocultural vulnerabilities that Indigenous girls and women encounter managing unplanned pregnancies in the Northern Territory. Conference Paper. CDU School of Law Second Law Research Workshop and Showcase Empowering and Disempowering First Nations People through Law and Policy, Darwin: 9-10 August 2016.

Ireland, S. (2014) From Wanhpanhs to Wombs: Describing the ethno-physiology & language of female fertility and reproduction in one remote Community. Emerging Face of Midwifery: Darwin.

Ireland, S. and C. Narjic (2014). Niyith Niyith Watman - The Quiet Story Emerging Face of Midwifery: Darwin.

Ireland, S. and C. Narjic (2009). Niyith Niyith Watman- The Quiet Story. Public Health Association of Australia. Canberra.

Ireland, S. and C. Narjic (2009). Niyith Niyith Watman - The Quiet Story Australian College of Midwives. Adelaide.

Research Reports

Larkin, S., Ireland, S., McGibbon, L., Roberstson, K. (2017). Accelerating the Indigenous Academic Workforce in Australian Universities. Commissioned on behalf on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium and the Commonwealth Department of Education. ILREN,CDU: Darwin.

Ireland,S., Pollard, K., & Smith, J. (2017) Formative Indigenous Focused Research on the LiveLighter® Social Marketing Campaign. Conducted on behalf of the Northern Territory Heart Foundation. ILREN, CDU: Darwin.

Ireland, S. & Pollard, K. (2017). Supplementary Material: Formative Indigenous Focused Research on the LiveLighter® Social Marketing Campaign. Conducted on behalf of the Northern Territory Heart Foundation. ILREN, CDU: Darwin.

Ireland, S. & Narjic, C.W. (2014) Kale kale I wakal wermada ngarra da Wadeye: Mothers and newborn babies at Wadeye. Remembering old stories about midwives, women and newborn babies. Menzies & Lowitja: Sydney.

Professional Positions, Memberships & Awards


  • Rowan Nicks Russel Drysdale Fellow 2018. Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney
  • Australian Postgraduate Award, Charles Darwin University.
  • Menzies School of Health Research Enhanced Living Scholarship.
  • The Lowitja Institute Scholarship Award. (CRATSIH Program 2: Healthy Communities and Settings).
  • Chancellors Medal, Charles Darwin University, Australia 2009.
  • Royal College of Nursing Rural Scholarship, 2006.


Associate Editor for the Health Promotion https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/22011617

Media Coverage

Radio, TV & News Paper Interviews

ABC online: Researchers call for case studies to explain Northern Territory abortion rate rends (Aug 2016) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-12/indigenous-abortion-rates-rising-nt-experts-say/7722134

ABC online: Aboriginal women keeping quiet during pregnancy to avoid 'sit down' births in Darwin, researcher says. (Nov 2014) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-28/pregnant-aboriginal-women-keeping-quiet-lacking-birthing-options/5923480

ABC Radio Country Hour with Carl Curtain 22/07/2009. Radio interview with Sarah Ireland and Concepta Wulili Narjic Giving Birth on Country Research.

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Supervision

I welcome prospective Honours, Masters and Doctorate students to contact me via email.

  • Associate Supervisor- Ms Emily Armstrong: doctoral candidate: Research project title: Exploring and facilitating effective intercultural communication in early childhood assessment contexts: Working together for understanding of Yolŋu children’s strengths and needs.
Sarah Ireland


T: +61 8 8946 7121
E: Sarah.ireland@cdu.edu.au

Casuarina, Northern Territory, Australia