Saturday, November 13, 2010


Midwives Rosie and Joy
After a Skype conference call that linked midwives in locations around the country for the APMA annual general meeting, the group at my house had a very valuable time of *listening* to each other. We sat around the table and we ate sandwiches and boiled fruit cake and drank our tea or coffee.

Our little group included those who have been in private practice from anything from five to 20 years. We also covered a wide spectrum of positions as far as Medicare and particularly the Collaboration arrangements are concerned.

Listening was so useful, and we asked ourselves to not try to debate or challenge the person who was speaking. (that’s quite a challenge in itself). We asked each person to talk about their current status with the Medicare eligibility application, and their plans.

I have recently had an in-depth conversation with a midwife who believes that no midwife should even attempt to take up the Medicare eligibility because “only women who consent to referral will be eligible for Medicare”, and that in supporting the Government’s Medicare reform a midwife is supporting discrimination against women. I have heard calls for midwives to stand together. I have read on a midwife’s blog “APMA representing private medicare midwives, and once again the rest of the midwives and the women who want a no fuss homebirth are left wondering ....”

Another midwife has written publicly “While women in Ireland, Hungary and the USA are being shackled physically we certainly are being shackled metaphorically here in Australia not just by legislators, hospitals and obstetricians but some of our own midwives and women who accept this treatment without even raising a pen to paper to object.”

These statements come after years of distress and fear amongst midwives and women who employ us, about the future.

Now that the legislation has been set down midwives have a clear choice as far as Medicare is concerned – either to do what we can to work within the ‘system’ as it is, or not. While we have the exemption for homebirth, we can continue attending women in their homes.

I believe we need to stay together as much as possible, or face further marginalisation of private midwifery practice as we know it. I hope that those among us with political skill will continue to work to improve equity and access for all women, and protect the scope of practice of the midwife.

A colleague who joined in our discussion yesterday spoke in very clear terms, differentiating between a midwife’s issues and a woman’s issues. I wish I had recorded what she said, but of course we were not recording anything.

I would encourage independent midwives to meet with your colleagues, and take time to *listen* to each other.

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