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Koorie Birth Suite helping Close the Gap

Tuesday, 09 October 2018

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.”