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Birthing on Country

Centre for Research Excellence

Achieving equity in birth outcomes, health status and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families

Photograph: Pat Josse


About the Birthing on Country Centre for Research Excellence (BoC CRE)

For the past ten years there has been little or no improvement in key maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) indicators when comparing First Nations to other Australian women. Maternal death remains 4.6 times higher, perinatal deaths 1.7 times higher with preterm birth 1.6 times higher, and unchanged in 10 years. Preterm birth is the largest contributor to child mortality ( x 2.4 times ), associated with significant childhood disability and chronic diseases in adulthood. First Nations children are 8 times more likely to be involved with government agencies for possible child apprehension, and 10 times more likely to be removed from their families than other children.

We have the following resources that will help us to achieve our goals:

1. BOC CRE $2.5M funding

2. First Nations leadership

3. Experts with years of experience in the field and strong networks

4. Committed, enthusiastic team within the BOC CRE and the Molly Centre

5. Community support

6. Strong partnerships

7. University support- In kind and financial

8. 5 years to make a difference

Our goals are to redesign MNCH and support services in multiple locations, thereby making a positive impact on Australia’s First Nations families. 

Primarily, mothers, babies, families and communities are the target group. We plan to grow the number of First Nations midwives, MNCH nurses and researchers. Djäkamirrs will be trained and employed in several sites across the NT and QLD.

Within 2-3 years we will have established exemplar redesigned maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) and support services in demonstration sites in Brisbane, QLD (urban), Nowra, NSW (regional), Alice Springs, NT (remote) and very remote (Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, NT). We will have developed, trialled and evaluated djäkamirr programs in several sites in remote areas of the NT and north QLD.

In 5 years we will have supported the establishment and evaluation of redesigned MNCH and support services in multiple locations making a positive impact on Australia’s First Nations families; including a reduction in preterm birth (<37-weeks) and family strengthening to reduce infant removal (<12-months). Our research is underpinned by the understanding that effective interventions during pregnancy and early life must address the social and cultural determinants of health including income, employment, education and access to culturally safe health care. Our participatory action research approach will have privileged First Nations ways of seeing, knowing and doing, bringing community knowledge into the research framework. This will have formed the interface of our entire program of research.


October 2021
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December 2022
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July 2023

Birthing on Country CRE Seminar Series