The role of the midwife in Australia: Views of women and midwives

Churchill Livingstone
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Midwifery, 2009, 25 (6), pp. 673 - 681
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Objective to research the role of midwives in Australia from the perspectives of women and midwives. This study was part of a commissioned national research project to articulate the scope of practice of Australian midwives and to develop national competency standards to assist midwives to deliver safe and competent midwifery care. Design a multi-method approach with qualitative data collected from surveys with women and interviews with midwives. Setting participants represented each state and territory in Australia. Participants midwives who were randomly selected by the regulatory authorities across the country and women who were consumers of midwifery care and involved in maternity activism. Key conclusions midwives and women identified a series of key elements that were required of a midwife. These included: being woman centred; providing safe and supportive care; and working in collaboration with others when necessary. These findings were consistent with much of the international literature. Implications for practice a number of barriers to achieving the full role of the midwife were identified. These included a lack of opportunity to practice across the full spectrum of maternity care, the invisibility of midwifery in regulation and practice, the domination of medicine, workforce shortages, the institutional system of maternity care, and the lack of a clear image of what midwifery is within the wider community. These barriers must be addressed if midwives in Australia are to be able to function according to the full potential of their role.
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