Exploring the experiences of Indigenous women and Indigenous students who participated in a ‘follow through’ journey within a Bachelor of Midwifery Program

      International reports highlight that improvements to health outcomes for Indigenous populations is linked to greater participation by Indigenous people in the provision of health service delivery. Australian government policies underline the need to increase the number of practising Indigenous midwives as a strategy for delivering culturally appropriate healthcare that will help improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. One of the key components of the ‘Close the Gap’ initiative includes enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to enter the healthcare workforce. Indigenous midwives and nurses’ lived experiences, along with their knowledge of health service delivery, provides them with unique insight of the health system. It is recognised that it is essential to increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with tertiary level qualifications in order to provide culturally appropriate healthcare that will ultimately lead to increased uptake and subsequent health improvements. In this presentation, we share the stories told to us as part of a small, qualitative study that explored the experiences of a sample of Indigenous Australian women and Indigenous student midwives who participated in a ‘follow through’ journey as part of a Bachelor of Midwifery program in northern Australia. The findings of our study highlight the urgent need for improved strategies and policies that recruit and retain Indigenous midwifery students as their contribution is key to improving health outcomes for Indigenous childbearing women and their families.
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