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International Day of the Midwife

26 April 2019

The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service is celebrating this year’s International Day of the Midwife on 5 May with the appointment of a health service-wide Director of Midwifery.

Torres and Cape HHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Kim Veiwasenavanua said Heather Gulliver had joined the health service as Director of Midwifery, based at Cooktown.

She was previously part of the Cooktown Midwifery Group Practice clinical leadership team.

Ms Veiwasenavanua said Ms Gulliver brought to her new role broad experience in complex maternity care and reproductive health worker education in lower-resourced settings across the Pacific.

“She is also experienced in models of maternity care that promote cultural safety for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island families,’’ she said.

“Our health service employs more than 30 midwives throughout the region, including at our two main birthing facilities at Thursday Island Hospital and Cooktown Multipurpose Health service.

“Ms Gulliver will provide strategic and professional direction to our midwifery teams on Cape York, in the Torres Strait and in the Northern Peninsula Area and help build on the high-quality, individualised care we already deliver to women and their families.’’

Ms Gulliver’s appointment was made possible thanks to a State Government commitment announced in August 2018 to strengthen maternity services in Queensland by appointing 100 additional experienced midwives across the state by June 2019, including 42 in rural and regional areas like the Torres and Cape HHS.

“It’s a great appointment to announce in conjunction with the International Day of the Midwife,’’ Ms Veiwasenavanua said.

Ms Gulliver said she looked forward to working with the maternity care team in the health service.

“The Torres and Cape HHS midwives deliver a unique maternity service in a very unique and diverse part of Australia and I’m keen to help direct and build on that service for the future,’’ she said.

Ms Gulliver said she would work on strengthening coordination and partnerships with the team of care givers that women and their babies might need.

“Geographical distance, disruptive weather and diverse health care needs are some of the challenges midwives work with as they walk beside women on their unique journey to motherhood,’’ she said.

“But evidence indicates improved outcomes do occur when the woman and her family are supported by a ‘known’ midwife through their pregnancy, birth and early parenting, such as is available through the Midwifery Group Practice model of care at both Cooktown and Thursday Island.

“Without doubt, midwives in these maternity services are committed to advocating for respectful maternity care that is responsive to a woman’s individual needs in close collaboration with Indigenous health workers, doctors and other health care team members as required.’’

Ms Veiwasenavanua said in addition to welcoming Ms Gulliver, different family-focused events would be held around the region on 5 May to mark the International Day of the Midwife and its significance.

“It’s an important day for all midwives,’’ she said.

“Having a baby is one of the most amazing events in a parent’s life and midwives play a vital role in helping to deliver that most precious of gifts.

“From the initial appointment in a woman’s early pregnancy, during the birth and through to those first few weeks at home with a new baby, midwives provide education, care and support on everything from pregnancy, diet, birth, breastfeeding and settling techniques.
“Midwives are also highly skilled at detecting complications in mother and baby and organising referrals to other health care providers or initiating emergency care.

“It’s important, therefore, that midwives’ voices are heard as part of an inter-disciplinary team of health professionals delivering quality care to our clients.’’

Ms Gulliver said the International Confederation of Midwives encouraged the celebration of midwives and their remarkable achievements in contributing to improving sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health outcomes across the globe.

“On 5 May each year, we are given an opportunity to remind ourselves we are part of a global network of midwives protecting and promoting women’s rights to safe and respectful care no matter where they live and no matter how challenging their journey into parenthood may be,’’ she said.

“We stand beside women with open hearts, watchful eyes, skilled hands, a keen mind, strong shoulders and a deep gratitude for the privilege being a midwife is to each of us.’’

PHOTO CAPTION: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service new Director of Midwifery Heather Gulliver beside
one of the many positive birth affirmations in the Cooktown Multipurpose Health Service Midwifery Group Practice Bungalow.

Last updated: 13 May 2019