This program aims to identify, evaluate and develop strategies that promote professionalism, collaboration and support the emotional well-being of the maternity workforce.

A number of projects have been completed or are currently underway, including:


Work, Health and Emotional Lives of Midwives (WHELM)

Promoting and enabling reflection on practice (clinical supervision)


Study 1 – Identifying the enablers and barriers to the implementation of reflective clinical supervision for employed midwives

Reflective clinical supervision provides a framework to enhance midwifery practice and facilitate professional development.

This program of work has been designed to identify what organisational structures and processes are needed to enable midwives, who have completed an educational program for clinical supervision, to put this into practice.

Lead: Associate Professor Mary Sidebotham


Study 2 – Identifying the structures and elements of an effective educational program for providers of reflective clinical supervision

The value of reflective clinical supervision (RCS) for midwives is gaining recognition as an important workforce support strategy.

Research findings indicate that a crucial success factor for implementing RCS is the availability of appropriately prepared facilitators. Little is currently known about the best way to prepare facilitators for clinical supervision.

This doctoral program of work aims to identify the structures and processes required within a program of education that are critical to create transformative change and enable midwives to take on the role of clinical supervisor confidently and competently.


Harvey, S., Spurr, P., Sidebotham, M., Fenwick, J. (2020). Describing and evaluating a foundational education/training program preparing nurses, midwives and other helping professionals as supervisors of clinical supervision using the role development model. Nurse Education in Practice, 42, 102671.

Co-Leads: Sue Harvey (PhD candidate), Associate Professor Mary Sidebotham
 and Adjunct Professor Jennifer Fenwick

Study 3 – Measuring the impact of reflective clinical supervision on workforce well-being

This study will provide an evaluation framework, that can be adopted at an organisational level, to measure the impact of reflective clinical supervision on workforce well-being, health economics and organisational quality and safety.

Lead: Associate Professor Mary Sidebotham


Strengthening the maternity workforce


Study 1 – The needs of midwifery leaders in reforming maternity services

The influence of midwifery leaders is a crucial element in the translation of evidence into practice.

This qualitative descriptive study aims to identify what midwives in leadership positions in Australia need to enable them to be effective in their roles and drive maternity service reform.

Lead: Associate Professor Mary Sidebotham

Study 2 – Obstetricians views about continuity of midwifery care models

Obstetricians’ attitudes of health professionals may impact women’s maternity care options.

This project explores obstetricians’ attitudes towards continuity of midwifery care and how these attitudes may impact the implementation and sustainability of caseload midwifery models.

Lead: Professor Jenny Gamble

Study 3 – Midwives and maternity reform

A motivated, well-educated midwifery workforce is a critical factor in the implementation of continuity of midwifery care models.

This qualitative descriptive study explores the motivation, willingness and ability of midwives in Victoria to contribute to maternity services reform through working in and supporting continuity of midwifery practice models.

Lead: Associate Professor Mary Sidebotham

Study 4 – Obstetricians and trauma

Trauma during childbirth, such as maternal death or severe injury to a baby, impacts not only the family but also maternity staff, and may contribute to a range of psychological responses, including post-traumatic stress (PTSD).

For some medical practitioners subsequent trauma may include stress related to being reported to the medical board. Trauma exposure and PTSD has consequences for the mental health of the individual (including possible suicide) and can result in practitioners leaving the workforce. Doctors with burnout, or mental health conditions including PTSD, may be less able to provide appropriate patient care.

Little is currently known about the impact of birth trauma on the mental health of obstetricians in Australia and New Zealand.

This initial study in this program of work was a feasibility study with obstetricians about exposure to birth trauma, the development of trauma symptoms and post-traumatic growth. Participants perceived that ‘obstetricians experience substantial trauma’, that there was a ‘culture of blame in obstetrics’, and that only ‘some workplaces were supportive and safe’.

Co-Leads: Professors  Gamble, Creedy, Ellwood and Dr Andrea Walker (PhD student)

Additional projects relevant to Workforce


Other projects or studies relevant to this program area include:

Project: Evaluating the willingness of new midwives to work in continuity of care models

Project: Domestic and Family Violence

Practice Translation Workforce Education Health Promotion