Baggarrook Yurrongi First Nations Midwifery Program

La Trobe University

Supported beneficiary groups within Women & Girls
Age Demographic
Varied Ages
Project Focus
Project Area

Project Description

First Nations communities experience an unacceptable gap in health outcomes and First Nations babies and their mothers have critically poorer outcomes than non-First Nations people. The lifelong impacts of these outcomes are severe:

  • Twice the number of deaths per 1000 births
  • Twice the number of low birthweight babies (low birth weight is associated with > 20 times the increased likelihood of death in the first year of life
  • Three times the maternal death rate per 100,000 pregnancies
  • 1.7 times the preterm infant death rate.

The Baggarrook Yurrongi culturally inclusive caseload midwifery pilot program began as a collaboration between researchers at La Trobe University, VACCHO and three major Melbourne metropolitan hospitals. Women in the program reported positive experiences of maternity care during labour, birth and the early postnatal period and felt emotionally and physically supported.

Other key outcomes included:

  • a 21 times increase in access to gold standard maternity care for mothers of First Nations babies – from 34 to over 700 women during the research period
  • 90% uptake by women offered the model
  • 1.6 times the reduction in preterm births
  • 1.6 times the reduction in low birth weight infants
  • a 13% increase in health infants.

We’ll expand the model in 5 Victorian services from 2024, The Women’s Northern Health, Peninsula Health, Bendigo Health and Eastern Health. Funding will also support training more First Nations midwives and program coordinators.

Expected Outcomes

Numerous studies have found that midwifery-led continuity of care is associated with substantially better perinatal health outcomes. That's why there is such a demand for the Baggarrook Yurrongi caseload midwifery program.

This unique model differs from fragmented mainstream care where First Nations women usually receive care from a number of different and unfamiliar health care providers, and often experience racism. We have also found high rates of breastfeeding initiation and maintenance, reduced smoking in pregnancy, and improved clinical outcomes.

Midwives working in the model were also highly satisfied with the work, valuing building close relationships with women and providing continuity of care in a culturally sensitive way.

At the Women’s, there are 500 caseload births each year, of which about 80 are First Nations.

Following the successful implantation of Baggarook Yurrongi in 2018, double the number of women having a First Nations baby are booking in for care (80 in 2017/2018 vs > 150 in 2022). There’s an urgent need to scale up this model of care to meet demand at the Women’s and across other Victorian hospitals identified as having a significant number of First Nations births each year.

Project Data & Lessons

We will collect data in a number of ways throughout this project. We will ask women about their views and experiences using both surveys and in-depth interviews and we will obtain data on clinical outcomes (such as type of birth) via the health services’ medical records. None of this data will be identifiable – for interviews and women’s views we will allocate unique identifiers for each woman, and remove any link to them as individuals. The clinical outcome data will be group data, we will not be looking at individual women and babies – all data will be presented in this way.

We will also collect other data to ensure the project is being implemented as planned, and to explore the views of key stakeholders. This will take the form of surveys and in-depth interviews with people such as midwives, health service managers, and Fist Nations representatives from the community and health services.

We will share the information we collect in various ways. We will present it back to the organisations involved and we will seek to present at appropriate conferences, compile policy briefs and send to relevant bodies, and submit papers for publication in academic journals.

Project Dates

This program is already providing life changing support to First Nations women and their babies in three Melbourne metropolitan hospitals. This proposal seeks funding to support the expansion of this program across Victoria.

Funding Details

Funding Needed
Current Funding
Total Project Costs
Approved Tax Deductability Status
Approved Tax Concession Charity
Other Funding Sources

Organisation Details

La Trobe University
ABN: 64804735113


Professor Della Forster
Phone: 03 9479 8783

About La Trobe University

For more than 50 years, La Trobe University has been transforming people and societies. With a dual emphasis on excellence and diversity, we put our students at the centre of everything we do. Whether it’s our innovations in teaching and learning, strong graduate employment outcomes or leading research, we consistently rate among the world’s best. Ranked in the top one per cent of universities worldwide, La Trobe is firmly positioned in the top 400 of all three major world university rankings.

In the 2018 Excellence for Research in Australia report, our broad areas of research are all rated at, above or well above world standard. La Trobe is one of only 12 to achieve 100 per cent world-standard success in the broad areas of research.

We have a proud history of conducting research to address societal needs and we constantly seek new ways to engage with and better serve our partners and our communities, to build relationships and develop solutions for issues facing our society.

Our research is focussed on five priority areas linked to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Healthy people, families & communities
  • Understanding & preventing disease
  • Social change & equity
  • Sustainable food & agriculture
  • Resilient environments & communities.

Our researchers work with First Nations communities and recognise and respect the unique relationships the Traditional Owners of the land and water on which our campuses are situated. In all of our research, we are

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