Refugee Maternity Service celebrates 10 year milestone

Refugee Maternity Service celebrates 10 year milestone

Mater Mothers’ Hospital’s Refugee Maternity Service today celebrated 10 years of providing exceptional, specialised care to more than 2500 women from a range of cultural backgrounds. 
 
In late 2008 the Refugee Maternity Service began, providing care through an antenatal clinic at Mater Mothers’ Hospital which was kindly supported by the Sisters of Mercy to meet unmet need. 
 
The service consisted of a team of three; a social worker, an obstetrician and midwife. 
 
Refugee Maternity Service Midwife Michelle Steel, who has been in the role since the service began, said an evaluation of the service showed it was extremely beneficial for women from refugee backgrounds to be cared for within a dedicated service. 
 
“Pregnant women of refugee backgrounds can present with a range of pre-existing medical conditions including female circumcision and also trauma and torture from devastating events they have experienced. 
 
“Prior to the service, mainstream models of care couldn’t provide women the level of culturally appropriate care they required.
 
“The service met this obvious gap in meeting the complex needs of these women and its success is evident by the level of trust they have in Mater midwives and support people caring for them,” she said.  
 
In 2014 the service expanded to include both home visits and antenatal care in a hospital setting.  
 
Two years later the Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) was established under the umbrella of the service for pregnant women from a refugee background to receive continuity of care throughout their pregnancy in the community through to delivery in hospital. 
 
The Refugee Maternity Service has since substantially grown to include seven midwives and one social worker, providing support and care to more than 250 women a year. 
 
While most women through the service have African backgrounds, Mater midwives have cared for women from 80 countries, with them speaking 63 different languages. 
 
Interpreters play a key role in the service in ensuring there is effective communication between the women and midwife throughout their pregnancy journey. 
 
Ms Steel said it was a privilege to care for women with refugee backgrounds, knowing we were providing them a culturally sensitive care during what is a vulnerable time. 
 
“I’m sure I can speak for my colleagues in the service when I say the women who have utilised the service have taught us a great deal, not only clinically, but about family and what is truly important in life,” she said. 
 
“Despite going through many traumatic experiences, these women have managed to build a life for them and their family in Australia and they come to their appointments with positivity and a smile on their face. 
 
“The service has allowed us to establish very special bonds with these women and their families as many have had several babies through the service,” she said. 
 

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