Sunday, November 8, 2009


Australian Private Midwives Association
Contact: National President Liz Wilkes 0423 580585
Medical veto impacts women’s access to care: Women Rally.
The Federal government may stall on the blocks of its first major initiative in health as the reform of maternity services hits stumbling blocks and criticism. Women will rally around Australia tomorrow to ensure choices are not lost in the wash up. Liz Wilkes, National President of the Australian Private Midwives Association, will join women and midwives outside Kevin Rudd’s electorate office in Brisbane. Women are seeking assurances that new legislation around private midwives registration and practice will not reduce options for care. “Midwives are educated and regulated to provide care for pregnancy, labour and birth on their own responsibility under the International Confederation of Midwives definition of a
midwife,” Ms Wilkes stated “Suddenly we are told that doctors control the ship and that doctors will be able to decide who can do what.”

Legislation due before the Senate was amended on Thursday by the Government to require midwives to work at all times in formal collaborative arrangements with doctors as a condition of insurance. Doctors will be able to veto these arrangements effectively giving the medical profession the ability to control which midwives can be insured and register. “The reform of maternity services is the first test of the Governments health reform agenda. It looks like the medical lobby may stall these reforms before they even get started.” Ms Wilkes said today “Placing one profession at the complete mercy of another for registration makes a mockery of professional regulation in this country.” Women at the centre of the scuffle are concerned that the amendment may erode rather than expand choices as doctors make decisions about what types of care to support. Many choices such as homebirth, vaginal birth after caesarean and care in rural areas may be lost if doctors do not form the formal agreements with midwives. “For the midwives who are currently self-employed it is no longer a matter of referring a woman who needs care to the appropriate person. Formal agreements with doctors will determine which of these educated, experienced and skilled midwives can actually register.” Ms Wilkes added “Regulators should control midwifery professional standards, not how a doctor feels about a particular midwife. This takes midwifery back 50 years.”

Women are worried about the choices in birth and are calling on the Prime Minister to make sure that in implementing this first serious reform in health, options for choice are not lost. Women rally at 10.30am November 9 at electorate offices of Kevin Rudd Brisbane, Julia Gillard Melbourne, Tanya Plibersek Sydney and Stephen Smith Perth.

Contacts: Liz Wilkes 0423 580585 (Brisbane and national)
Marie Health 0407266004 (Sydney)
Sally Westbury 0422 894 496 (Perth)
Clare Lane 0416 130291 (Melbourne)

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