Australian Aboriginal kinship: A means to enhance maternal well-being

Jennie Dietsch, Tanya Martin, Pamela Shackleton, Carmel Davies, Margaret McLeod, Margaret Alston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The relocation of women from their rural communities to birth in a centralisedhospital is becoming increasingly common as maternity units close in rural areas of Australia. Thesignificance for Aboriginal women when they are denied the support of kin around the time ofbirth but have that support re-established postnatally is explored. Methods: This paper gathered data from multiple sources including in-depth interviews withthree Aboriginal mothers and one partner; observational field notes; and during debriefing, theknowledge and experience of an Aboriginal midwife. Thematic analysis was utilised to bothexplore and critique the collected data. Findings and discussion: Aboriginal women are particularly disadvantaged by maternity unitclosures in rural areas of the south eastern Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).However, contrary to the expectation that this would result in postnatal mental health problems, thesupport the Aboriginal participants in this study received from kin may have had a mediatingeffect which enhanced their well-being and possibly prevented mental ill health. Recommendations: Recommendations relate to strategies and policies that have the potential toincrease community governance and feelings of cultural safety for Aboriginal childbearing womenliving in rural areas.Conclusion: While the practice of forcing Aboriginal women to relocate around the time of birthhas a negative impact on perinatal health outcomes, kinship support may be a mediating factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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