CDU Lecturer in Midwifery Mpho Dube has received a Ryan Family Award, for her exceptional performance and contribution to Charles Darwin University.
Mpho was nominated for her tireless work spearheading the international placement of CDU midwifery students in Bali, a program that has been delivered via the university for the past four years
“The placement itself was prompted by a need to promote students' understanding of factors that affect and foster global maternal and neonatal wellbeing,” says Mpho.
“By stepping outside the Australian context into a country that is culturally diverse, and has different health systems and economic resources, students can gain more insight into how midwives in different contexts practice.”
Mpho was nominated by Angela Bull, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, who says Mpho’s previous experience working in midwifery in Zimbabwe, as well as in Australia, placed her in a unique position to gain access to Bali’s health system.
“Her experience of walking two worlds of health and maternity services has enabled Mpho to effectively use her negotiation skills, and her respectful communication style allows her to navigate Indonesia’s patriarchal and deeply cultural society and health system for the best outcomes for midwifery student placement opportunities,” Angela says in her nomination.
“This collaboration has seen opportunities for midwifery staff and students to be practically involved a wide range of maternity services in Bali, including private midwifery birthing centres, public health centres, village midwifery, and large public and private hospitals.
“The experience is rich and profound for students and staff.”
Mpho says another important element of the placement program is that students from host countries also benefit, by learning about midwifery practices in Australia.
“The students are able to build relationships and exchange knowledge about midwifery in their contexts,” says Mpho.
“They learn a lot from each other by exploring the similarities and differences in how they practice.”
The CDU placement is funded by the New Colombo Plan, with students receiving a $3,000 grant to help them to cover costs for the duration of the placement.
“Students visit an array of maternity services in Bali, immerse themselves in the Balinese culture and work alongside the Balinese midwives.
While Mpho says the opportunity enhances students' personal and professional growth, she also personally benefits from the experience.
“In an online learning environment, you do not have an opportunity to interact with students for a period of two weeks. Having close personal contact with students provides an opportunity for the students and academics who attend the placement to support and learn from each other.”
“We all leave our families at home and the success of the placement depends on the bond and teamwork that we foster during the two weeks.”
Throughout the placement, Mpho also leads initiatives to contribute to Balinese health services, such as coordinating a toy drive for toys to be gifted to the Balinese public health centres and an orphanage.
She says the research project demonstrates that strong partnerships between countries are crucial to implementing strategies for improving global maternal and neonatal well-being.
“Working with Balinese researchers has also improved my knowledge and understanding of how to work and communicate with people from cultures that are different from mine.
“The lifelong growth that comes with stepping outside of a person's comfort zone is phenomenal.”