Lecture to honour memory of Aboriginal health pioneer

Professor Sue Kildea (left) and Associate Professor Yvette Roe: redesigning maternity services for better outcomes for First Australians

Professor Sue Kildea (left) and Associate Professor Yvette Roe: redesigning maternity services for better outcomes for First Australians

Charles Darwin University College of Nursing and Midwifery’s Professor Sue Kildea and Associate Professor Yvette Roe will deliver a lecture celebrating the life and achievements of Senior Aboriginal Health Worker Molly Wardaguga on Casuarina campus, Tuesday 3 September.

The researchers are co-directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre – established to honour the memory and vision, and to continue the important work of the late Burarra Elder, Aboriginal midwife and Founding Member of the Malabam Health Board in Maningrida, Arnhem Land.

The presentation will provide an overview of her life and goals and explain how the new research centre is aspiring to honour Molly’s vision. Professor Kildea and Dr Roe collaborate in line with Molly’s ways of knowing and doing, by working side-by-side as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers to improve the health outcomes for mothers and babies.

Key to their approach is working in collaboration with communities on their priorities. One such priority is when babies are born preterm. Preterm birth is a World Health Organisation priority area requiring innovation and research. Rates for Aboriginal babies have not changed in more than 10 years and the Northern Territory has some of the highest rates in Australia.

As published this year in a Lancet journal, the research centre team has reduced preterm birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies by almost 50 per cent. The work has also led to the development of their innovative “RISE” Framework to support widespread scaleup.

The framework builds on research conducted in the Northern Territory which also saw significant redesign of maternity services. It has four pillars to drive important reform:

  • Redesign the health service
  • Invest in the workforce
  • Strengthen families
  • Embed Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community governance and control.

The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre is driving implementation of national policy, which recommends these services are established while contributing to short- and long-term health gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

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