The Greens will today announce an investment in culturally appropriate healthcare for First Nations parents and babies, from pregnancy to early childhood, with a $144 million plan to fund five dedicated Birthing on Country/Birthing in our Community (BiOC) hubs across Australia.
BiOC models integrate midwifery services and cultural knowledge, allowing First Nations women to give birth on Country, acknowledge connection to Country, and access healthcare that meets their social, emotional, cultural and health needs.
A pilot BiOC partnership in Brisbane between Mater Mothers’ Hospital, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health has led to fewer pre-term births, higher birth weights, higher breastfeeding rates, and better overall health outcomes for mothers and babies.
The Greens will provide funding to continue the successful Brisbane program and establish new centres at:
- Waminda, Illawarra region (NSW)
- Alice Springs (NT)
- Tennant Creek (NT)
- East Arnhem Land (NT)
The policy will be launched at the existing Salisbury Mums and Bubs Hub today.
Comments attributable to Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women, Senator Larissa Waters:
“We know that First Nations parents can experience trauma when forced to be away from Country when giving birth. Even in cities like Brisbane, lack of culturally appropriate healthcare can lead to poor health outcomes for parents and babies.
“I’m a mum. I understand how hard having and caring for a baby can be, and how much support you need to get through. The Greens want to make sure that First Nations parents can access support that really understands what they’re going through.
“The Birthing in our Community program in Salisbury is proof that a culturally appropriate continuity of care model - covering pregnancy, birth and post-natal care - has really significant benefits for parents and babies.
“If we are serious about meeting Closing the Gap targets for health, we need to be empowering First Nations health services to design and deliver programs. Birthing in Our Community and Birthing on Country initiatives are a key way to do that.”
Comments attributable to Greens spokesperson on First Nations and Justice, Senator Lidia Thorpe:
“First Nations people living on Country or on homelands are often forced to give birth away from their families, cultures, and communities for a whole range of reasons.
“As a Blak mother, I know that our babies always do better when they are connected to Country, culture and the communities that love them.
“Our people have been birthing on Country for thousands of years, our connection to Country isn’t just a connection to land, water and sky, but also to our ancestors, our cultures, and our histories. Birthing on Country is the only way to ensure that our people and our babies have the best start in life.
“When First Nations people are free to choose our own path, on our own terms, our physical and mental health improves and everyone benefits. Birthing on Country will return the power to First Nations people to ground our babies into the strength and beauty of our cultures from the moment they’re born.
“The Greens are committed to improving physical and mental health outcomes for all First Nations people from the moment they are born. In addition to our Birthing on Country initiative, the Greens will provide $371 million to community-led health organisations to self-determine our future."