Exceptional care: Refugee Maternity Service

Exceptional care: Refugee Maternity Service

Five years ago, the first dedicated Refugee Maternity Service in Australia was established at Mater Mothers.

Developed to provide specialised care to birthing refugee women at Mater, the service comprises female health practitioners and interpreters who provide care to women from more than 34 countries.

The diversity of not only the clients, but their experience provides a constant challenge for the team, who care for women throughout their pregnancy, birth and postnatal period. 

“The women we care for have been affected by torture and trauma, extreme deprivation and loss of loved ones and therefore many experience significant mental health and grief and loss issues,” Senior Social Worker for the service, Cassandra Dove said. 

In order to enhance the provision of care to the women accessing the service, Cassandra and Michelle Steel (clinical midwife) have both recently further developed their skills. 

“I have completed a Masters of Social Work specialising in Refugee Health and Michelle recently volunteered at a birth centre in Nairobi for two months,” Cassandra said. 

Their exceptional efforts and dedication to the success of the service have been recognised via abstracts being accepted for various conferences, the provision of lectures to tertiary institutions from both the midwifery and social work perspective, and a number of educational presentations to Mater people.

The team have also contributed to developing state-wide guidelines, research, policy drafting and evidence-based practice changes. 

Cassandra and Michelle are hoping to expand their positive impact by taking the clinic into the community and developing a group education program.

“One area we would like to research further is the cultural appropriateness of perinatal depression screening and determining the most helpful mental health interventions and pathways for pregnant refugee women,” Cassandra said. 

When asked what their greatest accomplishment is however, Cassandra believes it’s actually quite simple. 

“I believe our best achievement is that we have a busy clinic; it means that refugee women in the community trust us and our model of care,” she said.  

Caption: Cassandra with patient Isha, who delivered her second baby through the Refugee Maternity Service. 


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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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