Category Archives: News

The Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative continues to grow

A Collaborative is as strong as the people who contribute to it. The Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative continues to grow. We recently welcomed four new Project Leads who bring their personal strengths to the team.

Professor Rhona McInnes – Director of Practice Translation

Professor Rhona McInnes

Professor Rhona McInnes is a Professor of Maternal and Child Health in Queensland. Rhona recently relocated from Scotland where she led a realist evaluation of the implementation of a continuity of care model at one health board in Scotland. Her research has contributed to the international body of knowledge relating to infant feeding and maternal and child health; focusing primarily on how decisions and health outcomes are affected by individual and organisational behaviours situated within their socioeconomic and political context (including healthcare service structures). Through her research she aims to advance strengths-based, salutogenic approaches that ultimately reduce health inequalities.

Rhona is currently evaluating the response of maternity and child health services to providing care during COVID19 with the aim of ensuring access to high quality care and informing preparedness for future large-scale event. She is also developing a programme of research that aligns with the First 2000-days and with high-value care.

As Director of Practice Translation, Rhona aims to ensure that evidence-based practice and women-centred care are at the core of maternity and child health services. To do this she is taking a strategic approach to strengthening evidence-based practice and identifying clinically relevant research opportunities. Sustaining high-quality care requires research capacity and capability within the health service, which means that it is important to identify and mentor early career researchers and clinical practitioners. Rhona welcomes opportunities to work with others to grow skilled research capacity and progress research and innovation within the maternal and child health space.

Associate Professor Lois McKellar – Director of Education

Associate Professor Lois McKellar

Education of the future maternity workforce plays a key role in the transformation of maternity care. Lois McKellar is an Associate Professor of Midwifery based in South Australia and has recently taken up the position of Director of Education for the Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative. She is an advocate for working collaboratively to ensure the provision of outstanding midwifery education and equipping midwives for practice in the 21st century and beyond. Lois is a Fellow of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation and a founding member and the current chair of the Trans-Tasman Midwifery Education Consortium (TTMEC).

Lois has been recognised for her excellence in teaching with an Office for Learning and Teaching award acknowledging her work in developing a sustainable model of support for midwifery students learning through continuity of care experiences. In 2019, Lois engaged with the International Confederation of Midwives and international colleagues to develop a national midwifery curriculum for WHO India.  Lois’ current research responds to the priorities for midwifery education as identified through the TTMEC Delphi study. With specific focus on increasing visibility of midwifery, mentoring of midwifery students and evaluating the clinical practice component of their education.

The Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative provides a mechanism to embed midwifery education as a critical component influencing quality maternity care.  Promoting the distinctiveness of midwifery education is vital to support the increase and sustainability of midwifery models of care. Lois brings a strong focus on research that underpins education pedagogy and practice, as well as a focus on strengthening midwifery academics.

Dr Zoe Bradfield – Co-Director Health Promotion

Dr Zoe Bradfield

Dr Zoe Bradfield is a midwifery academic and Research Fellow in Western Australia. Zoe is a vibrant midwifery leader, delivering excellence in education, research, and professional leadership. Her research strengths are based her understanding of the transformative power of quality maternity care which has fuelled her passion for inspiring excellence in health practitioners and leading innovative translational research that contributes to better outcomes for women, their families, and society.

Her recent research has focussed on what it means for midwives to be “with woman” in their practice, leading to a collaboration which has undertaken the development of a tool to measure woman-centred care. Zoe is currently leading a team of multidisciplinary researchers to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the key stakeholders of maternity care in Australia. She shares the role of Co-Director of the Health Promotion program for the Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative with Professor Debra Creedy.

The Health Promotion Program has 3 key priorities: to develop and test interventions that facilitate the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies; enable women to achieve the best possible health outcomes by improving health literacy; and develop and test strategies that enable health professionals, services and sectors to collaborate effectively to produce optimal outcomes for women and babies.

Dr Christine Catling – Director of Workforce

Dr Christine Catling

Associate Professor Christine Catling is a midwifery academic and an NHMRC Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney. She is also the Co-lead of the Maternal, Newborn and Women’s Clinical Academic Group, for the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE). She has been a midwife for over 25 years, both in the UK and Australia.
A/Prof Catling has extensive experience in antenatal education, policy development and research, and has published on workforce issues, homebirth, vaginal birth after caesarean section, maternal mortality, vaginal breech birth, maternal and child health in Papua New Guinea, simulation-based learning and vitamin D levels in mothers and neonates. In 2015 she was the inaugural research fellow for the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre at UTS. Her PhD explored the influences on women who chose a publicly-funded home birth in Australia, and current work focusses on the workplace culture in midwifery.

A/Prof Catling believes research, innovation and good quality midwifery are pivotal to the well-being of mothers and young families. Her NHMRC Fellowship (2021-2025) focuses on the midwifery workplace culture, examining the use of regular Group Clinical Supervision for midwives.

As Director of Workforce, Christine aims to create a passionate group with a shared philosophy that work together to support midwives to do the physically, intellectually and emotionally challenging job they signed up for. This group aims to consist of midwifery researchers with an interest in helping to retain the workforce and making midwives’ workplaces a more collegial, caring and supportive environment.

Are you interesting in learning more or contributing to the Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative?

Please make contact with us so we can explore how we can work with you to help transform maternity care. We send out a regular newsletter. Complete our contact form and let us know if you would like to be added to the distribution list for this. You can also follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Educating midwives of the future: Do professional standards reflect what students need?

In Australia, the standards for education programs leading to registration as a midwife are set by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC). These are periodically updated to reflect the needs of the community for a flexible, responsive and sustainable midwifery workforce. Last updated in 2014, the Midwife Accreditation Standards are currently under review.

Education for prescribing practice

One of the significant changes under consideration relates to the inclusion of education on prescribing. At present midwives who intend to prescribe medications in their clinical practice must have a minimum of three years of post-registration experience and complete a postgraduate course in prescribing in order to be endorsed with AHPRA as a prescriber. In the new standard, ANMAC is considering shifting education for prescribing into the primary, pre-registration midwifery qualification. While further changes to legislation would be required to facilitate midwives commencing prescribing immediately on registration, the proposed change represents an important necessary first step. If introduced, this would mean that midwives would not need to return to university study at a later date to satisfy this part of the requirement for endorsement.

In other high-income countries such as New Zealand, prescribing education is successfully provided within the primary midwifery degree and immediately on registration midwives have the authority to prescribe medications. This avoids placing a number of significant barriers in the way of midwives being able to include prescribing in their scope of practice. It also provides the advantage that midwives new to prescribing are better supported in healthcare systems that recognise that them as new to practice. This is not the case for midwives new to prescribing in Australia who may be left to “sink or swim” in their prescribing practice with little support. The New Zealand example demonstrates that it is possible to include prescribing education within the primary degree without compromising the quality of midwifery education or undermining the safe care provided by midwives with this educational exposure.

Preparing midwives for a full scope of practice in midwifery continuity of care models

A team from the Trans-Tasman Midwifery Education Consortium recently conducted research which identified future priorities for midwifery education in both Australia and New Zealand (Sidebotham et al., 2020). Among the priorities considered essential for the preparation of the future midwifery workforce was the provision of clinical practice experience within a continuity of midwifery care model. Given clear evidence of the superiority of continuity of midwifery care models, it is imperative that midwifery education prepare students to experience, and develop confidence and competence in providing care in continuity models (Gamble, Sidebotham, Gilkison, Davis, & Sweet, 2020).

In 2010 ANMAC introduced a requirement requiring students to experience continuity of care for twenty women, and in 2014 reduced this to only ten. It is important that ANMAC standards continue to support and promote the expectation that students will develop competence in providing quality care in continuity models.
Also of note is the proposal to remove an existing ANMAC recommendation that all students be provided the opportunity to develop competence in essential, but less often used skills in midwifery practice such as vaginal breech birth, perineal infiltration, episiotomy and repair, through the use of simulation. In order for midwives to provide autonomous care with the scope for practice it is important that midwifery students are taught to assess the perineum following birth and develop skills to suture the perineum. This recommendation should therefore be retained.

How to contribute

Have your say about the future standards governing midwifery education in Australia by submitting a response to ANMAC. Information about the standards and how to submit your response can be found on their website .
Submissions for the current round of consultation close on 13 August, 2020.


Gamble, J., Sidebotham, M., Gilkison, A., Davis, D., & Sweet, L. (2020). Acknowledging the primacy of continuity of care experiences in midwifery education. Women & Birth, 33(2), 111-118. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2019.09.002
Sidebotham, M., McKellar, L., Walters, C., Gilkison, A., Davis, D., & Gamble, J. (2020). Identifying the priorities for midwifery education across Australia and New Zealand: A Delphi study. Women & Birth, in press. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2020.05.011

Praise for midwifery-led continuity of care

Midwife Dawn Reid with mother Samantha Love and her baby boy

Gatton mother of two, Samantha Love, gave birth to her second child using the continuity of care model and had one midwife from start to finish.

“I met my midwife at 12 weeks pregnant and had her on call 24/7 until six weeks following the birth of my son,” Mrs Love said.

“During this time, I was able to get to know my midwife and she got to know me – she spent time understanding my birth intentions, anxieties and beliefs.

“When it came to labour and birth, I felt so empowered and in control and knew that my midwife was there for me and looking out for my best interests.”

Director of Lockyer Valley Midwifery, Dawn Reid, was Samantha’s midwife and said women who have been through this service will swear by it.

“Women and families who have had their children through a midwifery-led continuity of care model can’t speak more highly of it,” Mrs Reid said.

“Continuity of midwifery care is not just about managing labour and pain during birth, it’s about holistic care, covering all aspects of pregnancy, birth, antenatal and postnatal whilst supporting the entire family and extended family to make the entire experience the most beautiful, empowering and memorable of your life.”

Mrs Reid has spent the last 7 years working in a continuity of care model prior to spending the last 30 years of her career in various other models of care.

“The benefits for women, babies and midwives is undeniable and cannot be overlooked,” she said of the continuity of care model.

“As a midwife, we go into this profession because we want to support women to be empowered and we can only do this when we have the opportunity to build a relationship with women and their families.

“Knowing the woman and the family you’re supporting is also critical to ensuring the health and wellbeing of the mother and their newborns.”

Maternity continuity of care model changing lives

Our workforce studies show working in continuity of care is better for midwives and women and helps retain this very important workforce. Our collaborator and Lead Author of the study Mary Sidebotham was interviewed for this Channel 7 News story that demonstrates the benefits of a Continuity of Maternity Care model for midwives and women.

Watch the full news story here.