Improving Health Outcomes through Challenging Conversations with Aboriginal Women during the Perinatal and Early Childhood Periods.

Name: Karen E Beattie

Supervisors: Professor Deborah Loxton, Associate Professor Kym Rae, Dr Nicole Reilly


The differences in health and well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians across the lifespan are well-documented, complex and multi-faceted, with Aboriginal women recognised to be at higher risk than non-Aboriginal women during the perinatal and early childhood periods. Maternal health during the perinatal and the early childhood periods significantly influences both the short and long term health and well-being outcomes for the woman, her infant, family and community. During this time health professionals are expected and in some instances mandated to undertake health screening or conversations with women including psycho-social, mental health, substance use including alcohol, and domestic violence assessments; with health professionals reporting feeling challenged, unprepared, untrained and ill equipped to have these conversations with women. There is little literature which specifically reflects and addresses Aboriginal women’s voices, views, needs, and experiences of these health screening conversations, or those health professionals who work with Aboriginal women. Findings from this research will be used to inform best practice and policy development, strengthening health system knowledge and capacity in the provision of culturally safe and responsive perinatal and early childhood health care, and improve health outcomes for Aboriginal women, children and families.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.