Over 12 months, we will provide doula support and childbirth education for 50 women experiencing homelessness and family violence (FV), during pregnancy, birth and early parenting. The project will improve birth and early parenting experiences and longer-term health and wellbeing outcomes for those least able to access quality, continuous care in Melbourne.
Our program directly responds to international evidence:
- In Australia, less than 8% of pregnant women have access to continuity of care, despite the known benefits. Women experiencing social and financial disadvantage are even less likely to receive this model of care.
- They are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes, resulting in intergenerational health inequity.
- FV is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children. More than 25% of those who experience FV say it first occurred or increased when pregnant.
We will match clients with a skilled doula. Working alongside the public maternity system, doulas are key members of the care team. We take a trauma-informed approach that recognises the individual needs of clients who have experienced violence and abuse. This helps prepare them for the transition to parenthood and creates a safe space for themselves and their children.
Our doulas will be trained on the specific complex care needs of people experiencing FV and homelessness. This will also be made available to midwives and health workers, to improve quality of care for all women impacted by FV.