Aboriginal Family Birthing Program
The Aboriginal Family Birthing Program at the WCH provides antenatal and postnatal care in a culturally sensitive environment, with the support of midwives, doctors, Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) workers, social workers and family support workers.
Antenatal and postnatal care unit for Aboriginal families
Aboriginal families having their baby at the Women's and Children's Hospital have access to South Australia’s first ever purpose-built unit for the Aboriginal Family Birthing Program.
The facility provides a culturally appropriate space that allows Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff to provide dedicated care in a multidisciplinary team environment.
Ngankita Ngartu is the Kaurna name for this service, which means "caring for Aboriginal women during pregnancy, a program based on Aboriginal Culture Grandmothers Law."
This service is essential to help close the gap. Currently, 15 percent of Aboriginal babies are born at a low birth weight compared to 7.4 percent of non-Aboriginal babies, and 15 percent of Aboriginal babies are born prematurely compared to 9.3 percent of non-Aboriginal babies.
Providing these maternity services in a culturally appropriate environment with the support of midwives, medical consultants, Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) workers, social workers and family support workers is an important step forward in the delivery of culturally sensitive antenatal and postnatal care.
The development of the this facility has become a reality thanks to significant support from the Aboriginal community, Aboriginal staff, midwives, and obstetricians. This continues the work started by the Anangu Bibi Birthing Program in Port Augusta Hospital in 2004, which led to a number of Aboriginal Family Birthing Programs across South Australia.
The unit will enhance the Aboriginal Family Birthing Program, which has provided culturally respectful care for Aboriginal women and women with an Aboriginal baby during their pregnancy, birth and the six-week postnatal period since 2009.
The program has significantly improved health outcomes for Aboriginal babies over the years, including decreased rates of prematurity and increased birth weights.
There are currently 11 Aboriginal women working with other staff in the program, who have been employed through the Closing the Gap initiative.
Around 250 Aboriginal babies are born at WCH each year, and over the last 10 years this program has had a profound and positive impact on Aboriginal families and Aboriginal communities.
The facility includes a dedicated waiting room for Aboriginal families, private meeting areas, integration of Aboriginal artwork throughout the facility, natural light and views of country, and a floor layout that supports better access and flow.