Tom Price is a remote mining community in the West Pilbara of Western Australia. It is also the central service point for many surrounding communities, such as Paraburdoo. The area is home to many young families but since the local GP left, who was trained in obstetrics, there has been a huge gap in the services available to women for conception, antenatal and postnatal care. In addition, the hospital has inadequate facilities or staff to adequately care for pregnant women and their unborn child.
The Nintirri Centre is a not-for-profit organisation delivering community services in and around Tom Price. Their mission is to improve quality of life in the region through connection, collaboration and partnership. To help fill the gap left by the GP moving on, they wanted to trial a fly-in, fly-out midwife and implement a targeted outreach program, particularly focused on three Aboriginal communities.
In 2016, they received a $5,000 grant funded by FRRR and Friends to implement the trial. The funding went towards the monthly travel and accommodation costs for the FIFO midwife.
The Nintirri Centre drew on their strong partnerships with well-respected local groups, including the Karingal Neighbourhood Centre and Paraburdoo Medical Centre, to deliver antenatal and postnatal support to local women and families. Working with nurse from a local indigenous organisation, the FIFO midwife was able to prioritise referrals from indigenous communities.
Overall, it was a great success. During the trial, the midwife supported 61 women with clinical appointments and had 97 participate in the birthing classes.
With the support of the fly-in, fly-out midwife, a client who was suffering complications at 39 weeks pregnant was transferred from her community to the hospital in Karratha. The communication and effective relationship between the fly-in, fly-out midwife and the midwife in Karratha (the nearest major hospital) supported this client to deliver her baby in a safe and controlled hospital. The fly-in, fly-out midwife also worked with the local language group to provide financial support for the client’s family to afford fuel to be at the birth in Karratha. This situation may not have been as positive if the fly-in, fly-out midwife was not available to put these arrangements in place.
The midwife trial has clearly demonstrated the need for a regular midwife to service the Tom Price community. The Nintirri Centre is working hard to attain sustainable funding to employ an ongoing midwife.