Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Women's business–What is happening with Australian Indigenous women's pregnancy and fertility choices? (#90)

Suzanne Belton 1 , Dawn Bessarab 2 , Janet Kelly 3 , Jennifer Anastasi 4
  1. School of Health, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, Australia
  2. Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia
  3. School of Nursing, University of Adelaide , Adelaide, SA, Australia
  4. Menzies School of Health Research , Darwin, NT, Australia

This panel discussion focuses on how to improve Australian Indigenous women’s health and wellbeing regarding fertility and pregnancy choices, particularly in regional and remote areas. Experiences and outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women’s care journeys are often different and poorly understood by health care providers, and data currently collected does not fully reflect women’s experiences or be meaningful to their lived realities. There is fragmented quantitative data about trends which often do not include women’s voices, the reasons or meanings.1

The panel, consists of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian health care providers who are researchers, who wish to engage with peers, colleagues and women to unpack what is (and can be) known and unknown in women’s reproductive health care. Recent studies in the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia indicate high rates of teenage pregnancy, and rising rates of termination of pregnancy when compared to non-Indigenous women.

A range of reasons for this have been suggested23 (value of motherhood, health information not available in first language, differing world views, influence of drugs and alcohol, impact of violence etc.). There are also significant barriers to timely, affordable and culturally safe access to care.45Structural racism, ongoing colonisation, and the current human rights breach in the NT Stronger Futures Policy, an extension of the infamous NT Intervention are reality.

The panel seek an interactive discussion with the audience making sense of the current situation for women, communities and health care providers, to provide direction for participatory approaches to health care research.

Panel Outline: Discussants introduce themselves and their areas of clinical and research experience.

  1. Scene setting background in consideration of the international audience: colonisation differences; Australian health system; Closing the Gap; Indigenous disadvantage; and structural racism in health care.
  2. Specific Australian public health data and gaps compared with other First Nation People: fertility rates; teenage pregnancy rates and abortion rates.
  3. Questions and discussion arising from context material and future research directions.

The panel members have experience in women’s health and Indigenous research methodologies, and use critical approaches to health and wellbeing informed by an understanding of colonisation impacts and inequities.