Miss Cherisse Buzzacott1
1Australian College Of Midwives, Canberra, Australia
Birthing on Country as a philosophy is used to describe an experience or service that incorporates traditional culture within clinical settings as determined by Aboriginal and TSI women. It is a distinct mindset that values Aboriginal governance & leadership, incorporates family, spirituality, sharing of knowledge and embedded cultural safety.
Hearing the term ‘Birthing on Country’ sends an echo of doubt through the minds of rural/remote health professionals. It implies physical birthing on traditional lands; in remote settings that could be harmful to all involved, women and health professionals. Distance in remote/rural areas impacts Birthing on Country, is limited by lack of access to midwives and birth-ready health clinics, and absence of ongoing funding. It cannot occur for most urban women due to loss and connection to land tracing back to colonisation. This has lead to the inter-generational impact of disparities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
I will outline the current work of the BoC Project and the partnership between ACM and other key organisations who are working to establish Birthing on Country models of maternity care in three sites across Australia. The BoC Project aims to improve health outcomes for pregnancy/birth for Aboriginal and TSI women in rural/remote areas through community consultation and collaboration. It hopes to redefine maternity care as it is known and allow Aboriginal and TSI people to distinguish what appropriate and standard of care looks like within their communities.
I hope to engage participants and to explore:
- What does Birthing on Country mean to you?
- What are strategies to implement Birthing on Country within your health service?
Rural and remote health professionals should leave with an in-depth understanding of Birthing on Country and the Project; reflecting on their own practice and how they interact with Aboriginal and TSI women and families.
I am an Arrernte woman from Alice Springs NT, currently working as the project officer for the Birthing on Country (BoC) project with the Australian College of Midwives. I am a midwife having worked in remote settings in Central Australia and at the Royal Womens Hospital in Melbourne. My passion is Birthing and improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heath where I hope to see long-term gains in health as a result of women’s pregnancy & childbirth journeys. My role is communication of the partners, funding collaborator and stakeholders, engaging in community consultations and lobbying for policy changes.