Monday, February 23, 2009


The Australian College of Midwives commends the Government for undertaking this much needed review of maternity services in Australia and for listening to the voices of the women and their families.
“The Review has read a large number of submissions and deliberated over many complex and at times controversial issues,” said Professor Pat Brodie, President of the Australian College of Midwives.
“We endorse and commend the recommendation to continue to deliver maternity services in this country within a collaborative framework based on informed choice, and expanded access for women to continuity of care by a known midwife.”

“We applaud the Review’s determination to close the gap on disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies in partnership with Indigenous people themselves. We stand ready to work with the government, medical professionals and with Aboriginal women and their communities to help make this a reality.”
Professor Brodie said, “Also vital is the recommendation relating to improving the access of rural women to safe, collaborative maternity care as close as possible to where they live. Roadside births are on the rise with so many rural maternity services having been closed. This trend must be reversed.”

“The proposed extension of MBS and PBS access for midwives is essential to support the full contribution that midwives can make to maternity care in urban, rural and remote areas such as the Review is proposing,” said Professor Brodie. “We urge the government to make this a reality as soon as possible and to thereby bring Australia into line with other developed countries.

“The market failure in providing insurance for privately practising midwives also needs to be addressed urgently and we welcome the Review’s recommendation to ensure that suitable professional Indemnity Insurance is available for midwives,” said Professor Brodie.

Over the past 5 years a robust quality framework has been developed for midwives involving regulators, the professions and consumers. This framework includes national competency standards, Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct for midwives, evidence based consultation and referral guidelines, a national continuing competence framework, and Midwifery Practice Review (a form of professional credentialing). “This quality framework provides assurance that midwives who choose to take up responsibility for providing continuity of care, provide safe and professional primary care to women and collaborate with doctors and other health professionals for the benefit of individual women and babies in their care.” Professor Brodie said.

“It’s not about women being cared for by midwives instead of doctors” Professor Brodie added. “Midwifery care is something all women need and stand to benefit from. Continuity of midwifery care is about each woman having a known midwife who provides her care throughout her pregnancy, her labour and birth and the all important follow up care at home after the birth. Midwives respect and value the expertise of obstetricians and other health professionals. When women they are caring for need medical attention, midwives work closely with doctors to ensure the individual woman and her baby have optimal outcomes.”

The effectiveness of midwifery care received the highest scientific endorsement in October 2008 when a systematic review of 11 randomised controlled trials and over 12,000 women from around the world demonstrated that outcomes for women receiving continuity of care from known midwives were better than for women who received fragmented care from multiple midwives and doctors. There is no longer any doubt that continuity of midwifery care offers women considerable advantages and supports great beginnings for their babies and families.

In the past 20 years there have been over 20 maternity reviews at State and Commonwealth level, and many of these have not been acted on. “Now is the time to stop talking and start acting. We urge the government to listen to the needs of women and their families and make sure that these recommendations are acted upon. The time has come to give all women the choice of continuity of care from a known midwife, with seamless access to medical expertise as required” said Professor Brodie.

Contact: Media Spokesperson, Australian College of Midwives, Assoc Professor Hannah Dahlen 0407 643 943,
President, Australian College of Midwives, Professor Pat Brodie 043 418 1953, Executive Officer, Australian College of Midwives, Dr Barbara Vernon 0438 855 529,

1 comment:

Joy Johnston said...

It seems to me that the College is putting on a brave face. Self employed midwives will be unable to register if we don’t have insurance next year. By the end of this year, we will have to stop making bookings for births after 1 July 2010.

The recommendation of the report is to investigate providing indemnity for midwives in “collaborative team-based models”. I don't think that means private practice as we know it. It smells of medical supervision to me. Collaborative models usually have doctors and midwives working together – even though midwives do midwifery and doctors do obstetrics which is a different job. Even the privately operated midwifery group practices would not, I fear, be considered collaborative models. See