Protocol: Systems change to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Maternal and Child Health Continuity of Care in South Australia.

Karen Glover, Kim Morey, Alice Rumbold, Carolyn Renehan, Philippa Middleton, Stephanie Brown, Arwen Nikolof, Casey Cameron, Yvonne Clark

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Abstract

The Australian health care system contributes explicitly and implicitly to health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (1) by reflecting a legacy of western Eurocentric views (2). There is a lack of integration of historical and/or cultural perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies guiding current health care practice (2) which exacerbates and propagates a culturally unsafe health care system.
In South Australia (SA), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are less likely to attend antenatal care than non-Aboriginal women. In 2017, 17.2% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born in SA were of a low birthweight, 2.5 times higher than other babies (3). Data from the Aboriginal Families Study (AFS)––a population based birth cohort of 344 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants and their mothers/carers––found one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women did not see a general practitioner (GP) in the first four to nine months after giving birth (4, 5). In addition, one in seven women in the AFS did not recall seeing a Child and Family Health Services (CaFHS) nurse during the postnatal period.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in SA also experience social health issues during their pregnancy including housing instability, exposure to family and community problems including family violence, and grief resulting from loss of family members. The AFS found one in four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experienced five to 12 social issues during their pregnancy (6).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and families have the right to receive the highest quality health and social care. This cannot be achieved with a ‘business as usual’ approach or with short-term uncoordinated efforts. Dedicated and augmented initiatives, supported with long term funding, are required to effectively close this health disparity gap.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodySA Health
Number of pages224
Publication statusSubmitted - 13 Apr 2022

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