21 Sep 2023
The health workforce of Australia is facing significant challenges, prompting a new research partnership, to help build the midwifery profession for future generations.
Midwifery Futures is an in-depth review of Australia’s midwifery workforce sector being undertaken by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) in partnership with The Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health (the Burnet Institute) and colleagues to set the foundation for the continued growth and sustainability of the midwifery profession.
It comes amid concerns that growth is stalling in the midwifery profession. Despite a growing Australian population, there are fewer midwives on the national register than there was five years ago and only marginal growth of graduate numbers from midwifery programs.
In that time, the ratio of midwives per 100,000 head of population has dropped by almost four percent.
Professor Caroline Homer AO and her team from the Burnet Institute, University of Technology Sydney, Curtin University and the WA Child and Adolescent Health Service will engage with midwives, education providers, professional bodies, governments, regulators and the public to examine the current state of the midwifery workforce from a range of perspectives.
Professor Caroline Homer AO said Midwifery Futures will undertake a literature review, analysis and heavy consultation with stakeholders before a final report delivered in mid-2024.
‘Midwifery is at a very important point and how we react in the next decade will be critical,’ Professor Homer said.
‘We are really looking forward to being able to provide evidence that could guide future decisions. It’s an exciting time.’
The final report is expected to provide a map of the future supply and demand of midwives in Australia with a series of recommendations to inform the NMBA, government, employers and education providers and ensure the continuation of the age-old profession.
NMBA Chair Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM said the project could have a major impact for the Australian public.
Women and families experience better outcomes when midwives are involved in their care and we want to ensure that the profession can grow to safely support the Australian public needs across all geographical and socio-economic backgrounds for future generations’, Adjunct Professor Casey said.
‘The NMBA is proud to be working so closely with the Burnet Institute’s team and the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers (ANZCCNMO) to deliver such an important piece of work.’
The analysis will also include a review of the Registration standard: Endorsement for Scheduled Medicines for Midwives to ensure it aligns with current public and practitioner regulatory expectations. Any updates to the endorsement will be consulted on publicly before being implemented.