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Australia’s midwifery services 20 years behind NZ

Choice, Challenges and Diversity
New Zealand College of Midwives 10th Biennial National Conference
Friday 12 September – Sunday 14 September 2008
SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre Grand Hotel

10 September 2008

Australia’s midwifery services 20 years behind New Zealand

Australia’s midwifery services are at least 20 years behind those in New Zealand, says Professor Sally Tracy, an Australian midwife researcher who is the keynote speaker at this week’s New Zealand College of Midwives’ conference in Auckland.

For the past 10 years Professor Tracy’s research has been at the forefront of Australian maternity services, challenging a system resistant to change at many levels.

“In New Zealand, 78 per cent of women choose a midwife for their primary care. In Australia that figure is two per cent,” says Professor Tracy.

In Australia the Commonwealth government only funds maternity service payment claims through Medicare for doctors, not midwives.

“Generally Australian women can only access midwifery care if they can locate and pay for their own midwife - one prepared to provide birthing services without indemnity cover,” she says.

“If we really want to empower parents to approach childbirth as a healthy life passage, women and their partners should to be able to choose a midwife who will provide continuity of care from when they meet - and knowing that that person will be standing alongside when they give birth,” says Professor Tracy.

New Zealand midwifery care is a free service and is provided to all women.


Sally Tracy’s biography is on the following page. She will be speaking at the following times during the New Zealand College of Midwives conference:
10.30am Friday 12 September: Promoting normal birth and the role of evidence

9.50am Saturday 13 September: Practice challenges for primary birthing units

Professor Sally Tracy, Australia
DMid, MA, BNurs, ADN, RM, RGON

- Graduated with world’s first professional doctorate in midwifery from the University of Technology, Sydney, in 2003.
- Published over 50 papers in highly ranked international academic journals in her field.

- Professor of Women’s Health Nursing and Midwifery at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney and University of Technology, Sydney.

- Three years at the National Perinatal Statistics Unit in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales as a post doctoral research fellow working with the Health Evaluation Research & Outcomes Network (HERON).

- In 2003 she led the implementation and evaluation of the first caseload midwifery group practice to be funded within the public hospital system in Australia.

- This year obtained a large Australian National Health and Medical Research Council grant to undertake a randomised controlled trial of caseload midwifery care. This study will contribute the first available controlled trial data on the effect of providing one to one midwifery care to women during childbirth. Establishing midwives in a position where they may practice to their full scope of practice in the Australian Health System is the passion that drives Sally’s research.

- In 2006 she joined with a group of Australian and New Zealand midwives to co-author and co-edited the first core midwifery text written for Australian and New Zealand midwives, which won the Australian Publisher of the Year Award in its category in 2007.

- Sally represents the Australian College of Midwives on the National Core Maternity Indicator Project funded by the Australian Health Minister Advisory Council; and the National Consensus Framework for Rural Maternity Services funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government.


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