We Are Northern: This is the Koori Maternity Service team
The Koori Maternity Service (KMS) at Northern Health provides culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families through pregnancy until six weeks after birth. The Aboriginal health workers and midwives aim to provide continuity of care and holistic care by connecting families with local Aboriginal community services.
The KMS service includes:
- Culturally sensitive care
- Pregnancy care and advice
- Support through labour and birth
- Links and referrals to other services
- Tours of the birthing suite, maternity and special care nursery including our Ngay Nga-Ango Aboriginal Birthing Room
- Breastfeeding support
- Information and advice after the birth of the baby
- Advice on contraception
- Home visits up to six weeks after birth
- ‘Koori Cuddler’ volunteer program
The KMS offers flexible, person-centred care, strengthened by Aboriginal culture and practice and built upon respectful trusting relationships between women, their families and Koori Maternity Service staff.
There are currently three permanent staff members working at the KMS at Northern Health: Joanne Quinn, a Ngemba/Wiradjuri woman and Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Seneka Bowen, Palawa woman and midwife, and Alex Slade, midwife.
All staff members at the KMS make invaluable contributions to the service, by offering outstanding clinical knowledge and cultural safety to Northern Health patients and their families.
Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Joanne Quinn says that even though the KMS faced many challenges during the recent pandemic, the successes they achieved were far greater.
“Our staff were unable to provide support and safety face-to-face due to the COVID-19 restrictions. This resulted in an influx of women needing to attend our clinic and a lack of clinic space at times for the midwives to see all of our patients in a timely manner,” she said.
“However, despite these challenges and just prior to the pandemic, we managed to conduct a successful possum skin workshop and we were able to implement the use of the possum skin baby wrap for all newborn Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies. And with the increased number of women attending our clinic, we had a record high of families attending and birthing at the Northern Hospital in 2021-22.”
Since 2021, the KMS operates out of their own office spaces located in Ward 13 at Northern Hospital Epping and Craigieburn Centre.
The KMS team was also recently asked to take part in an ABC documentary exploring health outcomes and hosted by Magda Szubanski, which aired in November 2022.
In 2023, the team is looking forward to continuing to support all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families and engage in further projects to ensure their patients continue to have access to culturally safe, holistic, patient centred and enjoyable antenatal care and birthing experience.
All women who identify themselves, their partners or their babies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander are eligible for the service.
Thank you to the Koori Maternity Service team for your amazing work!
Featured image of first possum skin cloak workshop (left to right): Joanne Quinn, Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Seneka Bowen, midwife, Kate Dawson, Gina Bundle (facilitator), Jakara Elian, Maja O’Connor.