NAIDOC Week celebrations

NAIDOC Week celebrations

Nestled in the back streets of Salisbury is the Mums and Bubs Hub, a friendly and welcoming space for  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families birthing at Mater Mother's Hospital set up in collaboration with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services (ATSICHS) and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

The hub provides culturally sensitive antenatal and postnatal care known as the Birthing in our Community program, with access to continuity of midwifery care, GP consultations plus playgroup, community engagement and a range of extended social support services.

Program Manager Sharna Hill said the collaboration between ATSICHS, IUIH and Mater Mothers’ had been a huge success due to the need for such a program in the community.

Research from the first five years of this program has demonstrated the work we were doing was having a positive impact on our mob. We have seen improvement with more babies born at a healthy weight, a reduction in pre term birth rates, mothers breastfeeding successfully and children meeting their immunisation milestones,” Sharna said.

“It hasn't been an easy road, there has been a lot of hard work to get us to this point and that comes from everyone here having the same vision of creating Strong Deadly Black families and helping them stay together.

"As we are able to build a trusting relationship with families we are seeing them return to the Hub for their subsequent pregnancies. We do currently have a waitlist which demonstrates how needed this service is in our community."

Sharna said in addition to growing waitlists the team have seen an increase in caseload complexities and a steep rise in mental health conditions attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic which presents further barriers for women accessing healthcare.

"Our mob understand there are many barriers to accessing healthcare and this could be anything from transport to hospital, anxiety or shame around coming to hospital and also the understanding that birthing in hospital isn't the way which we traditionally did things," Sharna said.

"Having a culturally supportive environment for women birthing is so important, we want our women to feel safe as we build a connection with them in a non-judgemental space surrounded by people who have shared experiences.

"In addition to clinical care we also look after the social well-being of our families. Friday is community day where families can come together and have a yarn about what's going on in their lives."

Mother of three Sarah was at the Hub with her husband and daughters where she had her second and third pregnancies supported by the Birthing in our Community program and found the experience worlds apart from the birth of her first child.

“I think when you’re pregnant it’s good to have an outreach service where you feel you belong. Being Aboriginal myself it was good to meet other mothers who had shared life experiences, with my first child it was a very isolating experience, there were no programs like this available and I felt shame to reach out and ask for help,” Sarah said.

“Between my second and third pregnancies I lost my mother and I found coming to the yarning circles within the Hub very helpful as I was able to speak freely about my grief and loss while hearing from other women who had experienced similar things.

“I found this time around being pregnant during COVID-19 was very stressful, I would worry about the health of my baby however coming back to the Hub was like coming home to family. My delivery was good, I felt very comfortable and safe and it’s lovely seeing familiar faces in the hospital, I think having culturally supportive services is very important.”

To find out more about the Salisbury Mum’s and Bubs Hub you can contact the service on 07 3274 5700 or visit https://www.iuih.org.au/

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