A Midwifery Group Practice is up and running at the Weipa Integrated Health Service in preparation for the new birthing service due to open later this year.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said three new midwives already were in place at Weipa, with recruitment underway for a fourth midwife.
“This new service is great news for expectant local mums and the Weipa community,” she said. “It will see pregnant women assigned a known midwife to support them throughout the antenatal, birthing and postnatal period of their pregnancy journey. “This is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to delivering quality maternity care, including in our First Nations communities.”
Minister D’Ath said recruitment is also under way for an Advanced Indigenous Health Worker to join the group practice early this year, with a second Advanced Health Worker to come on board later in the year.
“The midwifery staff are also supported by a clinical team of allied health professionals, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and General Practitioners with specialist training in obstetrics,” Minister D’Ath said.
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said construction and fit-out of the birthing suite at the Weipa Integrated Health Service was due to be completed by July this year, with the first births expected to be welcomed by August.
“The Weipa Midwifery Group Practice has more than 70 pregnant women within its initial catchment area who are currently at various stages of pregnancy,” she said.
“About 60 per cent of these women have been identified as having pregnancies that make them suitable to give birth at the Weipa birthing unit which will provide a low-risk birthing service.
“A low-risk birthing service allows women who do not have a complex medical and obstetric history and who do not experience a complex antenatal period to be cared for locally if they choose.
“Women with higher risk pregnancies will continue to travel to Cairns or another larger centre to give birth.
“Once fully operational, the birthing unit is expected to support up to 70 births a year and will service Cape communities including Weipa, Aurukun, Coen, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Mapoon, Napranum and Pormpuraaw.”
Ms D’Ath said families in the western Cape region deserved the best care that could be provided.
“This birthing unit will mean a significant number of pregnant women in these communities will not have to travel to Cairns to have their babies,” she said.
“Women can have their babies closer to home, which we know is culturally important for First Nations women.”