Video - Hear from Hannah, a midwife

Hear from Hannah, a midwife at Thursday Island Hospital.


[Clinical Midwife Hannah standing on a beach.]

My name's Hannah. I'm a clinical midwife and I've been working at Thursday Island maternity unit for four and a half years. I've worked primarily in Aboriginal communities or for Aboriginal control health organisations.

I've spent quite a lot of time travelling throughout Australia and I moved up here in 2018. Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are incredibly rich and diverse in culture.

They are one of the oldest cultural groups globally. Who still have huge connections to water and their land and we are incredibly lucky to be able to work with them up here.

So, Torres Strait Islander peoples are probably the people that you want to work with as a midwife.

They teach us more than what we teach them. They're the women who have birthed babies on country for thousands of years without intervention from Westernised medicine.

And they are incredibly humble women and their families and their stories are just so rich and diverse.

First Nations people are fundamentally people who need people to support them and their spiritual and cultural context that is related to health.

I think it's incredibly important for me to understand their story, where they come from, and help bring back some of their health care to country, giving them ownership and allowing them to be self-determining in their health care and their health outcomes.

As a remote midwife your scope of practice as a clinical midwife definitely increases. Within tertiary facilities and metropolitan hospitals, we don't have the ability to work across the full scope and continuum, in remote settings we work with extreme pre-term, as well as post-states, as well as complex medical needs for women.

And that's not something that all midwives get to do. It's something that you get to do in a rural setting.

It's a very different pace of work, so it's not the same as a twenty four bed birth suite in a tertiary facility where everything's happening all the time. It's a place where you actually learn to sit down and build relationships with women because you have the time available to you that you don't have in the other settings.

You're also talking to families about their travel and how they're getting to and from islands or down south to specialist appointments.

And you're also making contact with these women quite early in their pregnancy.

So, MGP models of care are slightly different because geographically thay’ve got to travel over water to get to islands for appointments, whereas mainland more women are coming into the hospitals.

We're kind of more embedded in the community. I have been incredibly blessed to work with Aunty Margie and Aunty Flo.  Throughout my time here they are the people who have taught all midwives everything that needs to be known about caring for these women.

Aunty Maggie has birthed babies of babies of babies here, and she knows the language, she knows the culture, she understands some of the social determinants, especially within particular family groups or islands groups.

Aunty Flo is also an exceptional advocate for women and their babies. They can talk clinicians through island adoption and they keep us culturally appropriate in our care, which people don't know how to do until you've worked with First Nations people and you understand just the importance of not making eye contact at certain times, also making sure that we're delivering health care appropriately and timely, non-judgemental spaces, connecting with their culture and their spirituality, and ensuring that we're also recognising their responsibilities to their community.

Being with these women, you learn more and more about actually stepping back and letting them charge in telling us what we can do to make their health outcomes better.

[End of transcript]

Last updated: December 2022