Mater Education upskills Indigenous health workers

Released On: 16/08/2016

A group of Indigenous health workers is now better prepared to support the postnatal care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, thanks to Mater Education’s new tailored Mother and Baby Care short course.

The course was developed to increase the skills and knowledge of Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) Indigenous health workers, who go into community and work alongside trained midwives to provide culturally appropriate care for the families of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born at Mater.

The Mother and Baby Care course is delivered over six weeks and includes face-to-face workshops and assessments. Participants learn about postnatal care of new mums, common complications, newborn assessments, signs to look out for, and how to educate new parents about caring for their baby.

Mater Education Educator Claire Cureton said the course was developed following a request from BiOC Project Coordinator Janet Blair, and that it is an adaptation of the Mothers and Babies elective unit from Mater Education’s popular Diploma of Nursing program. 

“The course has been designed for health workers who often accompany midwives and nurses on community visits, but had no formal midwifery training themselves,” Ms Cureton said.

“We introduced midwifery terminology and knowledge that they are often exposed to, but may not have fully understood.

“It’s important they have a good understanding of this content, because they’re often told things about the health and wellbeing of the mother and baby that a nurse or midwife might not be told. So they need to know when to refer them on to midwives or other clinicians.

“The women we’re educating have already worked in the Indigenous health space for a long time and have a great deal of knowledge, so while the course presents the mainstream midwifery knowledge and skills, it’s always followed with a discussion about the Indigenous experience and how these fit together. It’s really about blending cultures for the best outcomes,” she said.

BiOC Indigenous Health Worker Ida Savage participated in the pilot course over May and June 2016, and said it was great to refresh her learning and that she now felt more confident in her role.

“It’s about the care and the love. I’m able to share and show the younger parents and first time mums how important it is to care for their baby, both physically and emotionally,” Ms Savage said.

BiOC is a healthcare program delivered by Mater Health in collaboration with the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane. The program provides comprehensive and culturally safe maternal and infant health services, which contribute to ‘closing the gap’ in maternal and infant health outcomes in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.