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Birth in a New Country




The increasing ethnic diversity of Australia’s population has created new challenges in the delivery of health care services. Government, both at federal and state level, has recognised that, in general, the health care system has not responded well to changes in the composition of the Australian population and particularly to the needs of newer communities. Maternity services are no exception. Submissions to the 1989 New South Wales Obstetric Review Task Force indicated that maternity services were failing to meet the needs of many communities from non-English speaking backgrounds. The Birthing Services Review, conducted by Health Department in Victoria in 1990, also found that non-English-speaking background women were disadvantaged within the current system when giving birth in Australia. This chapter describes the way the project ‘Birth in a New Country’ aimed to address the question of how providers of maternity services can improve the experience of birthing for women from non-English speaking backgrounds.


Contents include

  • New migrants and refugees
  • A description of the project
  • What the women said
  • How services can be improved
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Author / Editor Biographies

Katherine Cape was born in England. She completed a BA in history at York University before going on to do nursing and midwifery training. She came to Australia in 1986 and has, since then, worked mainly in community health. She has recently completed a graduate diploma in health education and is currently working at Doutta Galla Community Health Services in Melbourne in the dual function of Research, Training and Development Coordinator/Community Health Nurse. Her main areas of interest are women's health and primary health care.

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