Koorie Birth Suite helping Close the Gap
Barwon Health has transformed a University Hospital Geelong birth suite into a welcoming, culturally-inclusive space for Indigenous families.
The new Koorie Birth Suite is named Darrabarruk Pupup, meaning new baby, and is an initiative aiming to improve Barwon Health’s maternity experience for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Geelong.
There were 53 Indigenous babies born at Barwon Health last financial year, and even higher numbers expected in the future, according to Chief Operating Officer Amanda Cameron.
“The Aboriginal community’s input and decision making has assured the development of the most appropriate physical and safe environment for our maternity patients and their families,” she said.
“Getting maternity care right for Aboriginal women is critical to Closing the Gap and our goal at Barwon Health is to ensure our care is culturally safe and high-quality.
“We are committed to providing flexible, person-centred care, strengthened by Aboriginal cultural knowledge provided through our local Aboriginal community.
“Our new Koorie Birth Suite adds a further dimension to this service, providing a symbolically spiritual connection to Wadawurrung land and Aboriginal culture, paying our respects to the traditional custodians of the land where Barwon Health operates today.”
Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Op matched Barwon Health’s funding to support the project and Koorie midwife Aunty Athalie Madden said their Maternity Service Team was pleased to be part of the joint project.
“We have moved away from crisis care to a woman-focused culturally sensitive midwifery care,” she said.
“The Koorie Maternity Service team has strengthened its relationship with Barwon Health and this new Aboriginal birthing room will build on this relationship, providing another layer of kindness, love, support and midwifery care.
“It’s important for Aboriginal women to feel safe and comfortable at a hospital because of past experiences with the Stolen Generation when women did not want to go to hospitals.”
About the artwork
Title: Ngardang (Mother)
Artist: Ammie Howell, Arrernte woman- Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
This piece represents the special and significant areas of the Wadawurrung Country.
The blue area on the bottom right represents the beaches and the running waterways and rivers in the area with the You Yangs and Corio Bay in the distance.
The meeting places represent the diversity of Aboriginal peoples living on Wathaurong Land.
The spirits represent our Ancestors - significant women who are often called upon during the pregnancy and birth journey for strength and guidance, they are our Mothers, Grandmothers, Great-Grandmothers, Aunties, Sisters and Cousins - strong and proud Aboriginal women.
At the centre of everything, the woman, surrounded by all of these symbols supporting her through her pregnancy.
Aboriginal women are often the back bone of families and communities, they consistently demonstrate incredible strength and resilience through difficult times.
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