Sister Angela Mary talks to the Weekend Australian about special plans for the former Mater convent

Sister Angela Mary talks to the Weekend Australian about special plans for the former Mater convent

A project to redevelop the Mater convent into a unit to help Queensland mothers requiring treatment for perinatal mental health was the subject of a recent interview with Sister Angela Mary for the Weekend Australian.

The article, which ran on Saturday 30 November, offers an in-depth interview with Sister Angela Mary about her passion for the project which links seamlessly to Mater’s Mission statement of meeting unmet community need.

Medical Director Mother’s, Babies and Women’s Health Services Dr Mike Beckmann said that the literature suggests between 16 to 20 per cent of women experience clinically significant mental health issues in the perinatal period.

“Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death during pregnancy and the first year after birth,” Dr Beckmann said.

“Currently the number of places to help these women are few and far between.

“Mater Mothers’ Hospitals is the largest public/private obstetric hospital in Australia and currently has no dedicated onsite perinatal mental health service so it would make sense for Mater to develop such a facility.

“Mother baby units are considered an essential component in the continuum of care for women with the most severe mental health conditions and care in a specialist unit is internationally recognised as best practice for mothers requiring inpatient mental health care, resulting in the best outcomes for mothers and their infants.”

Mater's aim for the project is to develop a centre of excellence for mothers, babies and families focusing on the 'best start' for all during the early years of life.  The centre will provide a spectrum of care that promotes wellness, parental mental health, healthy relationships and child development.

Senior Manager, Young Adult and Mental Health Services Greg McGahan has been involved in developing the proposal to reach this point.

“Mater is well-positioned to host this quaternary centre of excellence for responding to the mental health concerns of birthing women and their families and has for some time been keen to expand services in this area,” Greg said.

In her interview, Sister Angela Mary is said to have wept at the idea of repurposing the convent to host the new service.  To her it is intrinsically linked to the very beginning of the Sisters of Mercy.  In Sister Angela Mary’s own words, “all these nuns who lived here forever, all linked to Catherine McAuley, who started the Sisters of Mercy back in Dublin in 1831 to look after women who were in trouble, mothers who were in trouble.  That was her Mission.”

While the project is still in very early stages, Mater Foundation has to date raised more than $10 million towards the project with the hope of raising $14 million in total.

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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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