Rural Midwifery Program at the Glen Innes Maternity Unit

LEARNING FOR THE FUTURE: Clinical Midwifery Educator Sarah Whyte with student Anju Kafle at the Glen Innes Maternity Unit on Monday.
LEARNING FOR THE FUTURE: Clinical Midwifery Educator Sarah Whyte with student Anju Kafle at the Glen Innes Maternity Unit on Monday.

For the first time in 13 years, the Glen Innes Maternity Unit has a student midwife. 

Anju Kafle moved to Glen Innes from Nepal in 2012 to work as a registered nurse before taking up an offer to commence studies in the Rural Midwifery Program.

The program is run in conjunction with rural hospitals and Charles Sturt University and is designed to help “grow” and retain midwives in small communities.

A typical eight-hour day for Anju involves everything from antenatal and postnatal care, to labour and birth, care for unwell babies and engaging in community health.

“I engage in every kind of maternity task,” she said.

Anju said her favourite part of being a midwife is being in the delivery room when a baby is born.

“Being there during birth is the best part to see how it happens,” she said.

“I was a midwife back home in Nepal but when I got offered the position here I thought it would be a great opportunity to upgrade my skills and knowledge.

“I wanted to see how it was practiced here in Australia.

“The main processes [in midwifery] are the same in Australia but we follow a lot of policy and protocol here which is better than back home.

“Having good protocol makes it a lot easier to work in this environment.”

Anju said she wasn’t accustomed to the country life before moving to Glen Innes, having come from a large city in Nepal –but she’s enjoying the change.

“I’m from the city and to give you an honest answer I never had a country life,” she said.

“When I got a job offer from Glen Innes I said ‘why not’ I will experience something new – that’s why I’m here.”

Anju moved over with her husband, who is currently preparing to retrain as a doctor in Australia.

“He’s only been here since 2015 and it’s really hard for him to get back into the system,” she said.

Clinical midwifery educator Sarah Whyte, who is also a former student of the program, said the Glen Innes Maternity Unit were extremely grateful to have Anju.

“I was a student 14 years ago and there’s a lot of ex-students working within the north here,” she said.

“Some are working as educators, some in the clinical setting, some are managers and some are midwifery consultants.”

Ms Whyte said for many years the unit didn’t have students due to a drop in birthrates.

“But this year we decided we’d really like to encourage some of our own local staff to become a midwife to retain our staffing for the future,” she said.

“We’re really lucky here in Glen Innes because the Inverell Maternity Unit is also supporting Anju, so when it’s a little quieter here she’ll go over there.”

The midwives also have to gain a certain amount of unwell baby hours in a special care nursery which requires a rotation to Tamworth.

“We’re very, very lucky this year to have a student and we’re hoping this is setting us up to get a student again next year,” she said.

“It took a bit of work behind the scenes but we’re so excited to have Anju, she’s doing such a great job and we’re hoping she’ll stay here forever.

Other hospitals participating in the student program are Inverell, Armidale, Tamworth, Moree, Narrabri and Gunnedah.