Opening address - from Amy Dawes
It seems like only yesterday that I submitted our 2018 annual report! And here I am reflecting on the whirlwind year that it’s been. We have managed to continue driving conversations around birth trauma and the impact it has on the lives of women, their families, and the wider community. Yet we must not forget that there are many people, including health professionals that still need to be convinced that birth trauma is actually a thing…
This year there’s been more opportunities to speak at both national and international conferences to raise awareness of physical and psychological trauma from childbirth. It was an honour to meet the health professionals based in the UK that are working towards reducing the incidents of birth trauma and to be given an opportunity – alongside our board member, Dr. Oliver Daly- to share the unique work that ABTA is doing here in Australia. Thank you to Dr. Jan Smith for the invitation.
July 2018 saw us run our first Birth Trauma Awareness Week, with the primary goal of raising awareness of birth trauma and its many complexities. Throughout the week, we featured in a number of major news outlets including The Project, ABC News, ABC Radio Nationwide and Life Matters on ABC Brisbane.
We also received hundreds upon hundreds of stories from women, many of whom were sharing their experiences for the very first time. Incredibly, our ABTA Facebook support group saw a 300% increase in member requests over that week. This further highlighted how crucial the role of peer support is for the healing journey after birth trauma.
In November 2018, ABTA was one of the stakeholders involved with the development of the National Strategic Approach to Maternity Services (NSAMS) to replace and build on the expired National Maternity Services Plan 2010-2015. The purpose of this national approach is to develop a document that will guide maternity services policy across all jurisdictions.
The process involved asking stakeholders to review the ‘Strategic Directions for Australian Maternity Services’ consultation document. I was able to attend workshops in Melbourne and Brisbane and we helped facilitate a webinar specifically for families impacted by birth trauma. You can read our submission here.
ABTA is the first, and only, charity in Australia & New Zealand solely dedicated to supporting families impacted by a traumatic birth experience. It was, therefore, an honour to be recognised for our advocacy work in this field with an invitation to attend a RANZCOG Birth Consent Round Table. The objective of this meeting was to bring together a multidisciplinary group of motivated individuals to explore the issue of informed consent, with a view to developing a consensus statement.
Representatives included members from the Australian College of Midwives, RACGP, a RANZCOG trainee and a lawyer, among others. I am very much looking forward to seeing what we can develop together to reduce the incidence of birth trauma in Australia and New Zealand.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
I’d like to take this opportunity to share some personal highlights.