View all news

New course will benefit mums and bubs of the future


Zuleika Henderson
1 May 2009
As women, their families and midwives around the world prepare to celebrate International Midwives’ Day this Tuesday May 5, Southern Cross University has announced a new course aimed at educating the midwives of the future.

The three-year Bachelor of Midwifery degree will be available from SCU Lakeside at Caloola Drive in Tweed Heads from 2010 and is set to produce graduates with in-depth specialist knowledge, skills, values and experience in the full range of contemporary midwifery practice.

Southern Cross University Associate Professor of Midwifery Heather Hancock said the degree course, which will be the only one of its kind between Sydney and Brisbane, responded to the need for more evidence-based and woman-centered education for midwives.

“Research has shown that women have less likelihood of losing their baby in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy if they have midwifery-led care,” said Professor Hancock.

“Problems are picked up more quickly because the women are able to develop close, sustained and ongoing relationships with their own midwife. Accordingly, women have a greater level of satisfaction with the care they receive, are more likely to keep their appointments and take responsibility for their health and wellbeing, and there is a greater likelihood of improved outcomes for both mother and baby.

“Following the National Maternity Services Review, Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon recently acknowledged the importance of midwives, and the need for changes - such as granting provider numbers and prescribing rights - which will enable them to work effectively to their full scope of practice and increase their accountability.

“Sadly, we are experiencing a significant shortage of midwives in Australia, so this degree aims to address that issue as well as provide the advanced specialist education needed to prepare them for an increased role.”

The Bachelor of Midwifery degree course, which will be assessed for accreditation from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Board in the coming months, will educate students in new models of practice focusing on woman-centred care, and will feature a variety of clinical and community experiences to expose students to all aspects of midwifery practice.

Students undertaking the course will receive the benefit of Professor Hancock’s considerable experience, which includes more than 20 years of teaching, research and practice in the field of midwifery. She has recently spent four years in the Northern Territory involved in perinatal primary health in Indigenous communities and helped develop the Northern Territory Government Home Birth Service and Midwifery Group Practice at the Alice Springs Hospital which includes women from remote communities.

Professor Hancock is hopeful that the course will also help towards improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in pregnancy and birth, and is encouraging Aboriginal women to enter the program to become midwives.

“In the course of one pregnancy, labour and birth a woman may end up seeing 60 different people, all with different approaches and ideas under the current systems of fragmented care,” said Professor Hancock.

“The message from women themselves is very strong that they do not find it acceptable to see someone different every time – and now we have evidence to back that up.

“Every woman should be able to have a midwife who they can know and trust across their pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond, who can provide effective care centered on the woman, collaborate, refer and consult where necessary, and enable the woman to achieve a satisfying experience throughout - and this course aims to help make that happen.”

Photo: Professor Heather Hancock (high resolution image available on request)