More midwifery internships in private system

A mother and midwifery student attends the Logan meeting
New midwifery placements will improve services and student opportunities

Students completing a Bachelor of Midwifery at Griffith University have welcomed a decision by the Queensland Government to fund training placements with private midwifery practitioners, a move which should boost training and employment outcomes.

Over a hundred and fifty midwifery students met on the Logan campus and were addressed by the program director, Professor Jenny Gamble, Queensland Health Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Padraic O’Luanaigh and midwifery advocate, Liz Wilkes.

Boost to rural midwives and mothers

Both major political parties have made statements committing Queensland to expanding midwifery services and facilitating greater birthing choices for women, especially in rural and remote Australia, where needs are often unmet.

“For Australia, a health and midwifery system to exist on the tidal movements of employment opportunities in the public health and hospital system is unsustainable and will restrict midwives opportunities to fulfil their potential,” said Professor Gamble.

“It not actually about midwives, the big issue is access for women to midwives. If we just rely on the public system it will never happen fast enough and support will be whimsical, we must embrace the private system as well.”

Many more midwives needed

For many years health sector and government projections have indicated Australia needed to begin training many more midwives than presently to keep up with demand, however recent graduates how have found employment difficult.

“The fact is, there will be a huge shortage of midwives in the next three to six years as we support the changes to the Continuity of Care model,” said Mr O’Luanaigh

“We recognise we have a commitment to all our colleagues and a supported graduate program (like with nurses) is important, but we can’t promise when that will happen. We know the opportunities are there now, especially in rural and remote practice.”

Win for health

The Continuity of Care model places midwives as the primary contact for women during pregnancy, birth and following birth. Studies have found this significantly reduces costs and stress to women and improves health outcomes for babies.

The changes represent a win for a health sector which has fought a long battle for industry and government support.

“Part of being a midwife is being political and sometimes that means standing up and being influential. We expect our students to ask questions and take up that reform agenda. Days like today are the good days,” said Professor Gamble.