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As part of Mater’s NAIDOC Week 2019 Voice Treaty Truth celebrations, Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, in partnership with Beyond Empathy, Access Arts, The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, Birthing in our Community and the Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program, have launched the Making Memories exhibition.
The exhibition celebrates the journey of pregnancy and parenting through the creation of painted pregnant belly, hands and feet casts and are part of a project called Sea of Bellies.
Through Beyond Empathy’s health strategy, Sea of Bellies practises the art of pregnant belly casting as a way to engage young First Nations’ families into health services, encouraging antenatal awareness and building relationships with midwives before giving birth.
Caseload Midwife Nurse Galen Elliott works in the Birthing in Our Community team and said it was great to see the mothers taking up the opportunity to have their casts made whilst connecting with their community and culture.
“The casts are made from 36 weeks gestation so it’s a celebration of their pregnancy journey before transitioning into the birthing phase and motherhood,” she said.
Registered Midwife Kate Jarrett from the Birthing in Our Community team said she enjoyed building a deep rapport with the mothers in her care.
“They are incredibly vulnerable yet also very powerful at this stage in their lives, it’s important that they feel in control of their experience,” she said.
Group Director Mission Madonna McGahan said that she was proud of the way that Mater People embraced this initiative and the many organisations involved in it, as part of our NAIDOC Week.
“The successful partnership that Mater has with the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service, supported by Mater’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison service aims to improve health outcomes and experience for our mothers, babies and their families,” she said.
In partnership with Access Arts, Indigenous mothers in Brisbane are supported by local artists Marianne Wobcke and Missy Knox who have joined the flourishing Salisbury Hub designing artwork with Making Memories.
Paula Athanassiou, mother of one-year-old daughter Cleo had a cast made of their hands together at three months and a year old and found the experience very rewarding.
“I had never done Aboriginal painting before but it was something I wanted to do for my daughter to show her the culture and create new traditions,” she said.
“I worked with Missy and Marianne on the design which was so personal and came from the heart and I can’t wait to have my belly cast when we decide to have our next child.”
There have been many positive health impacts for the women who participated in the program explains Harriet Jobson from Beyond Empathy.
“From the mothers who have participated we have seen more children born at a healthy birth weight, a reduction in smoking during pregnancy, women coming to all their pre and post antenatal care and fulfilling all their vaccinations,” she said.
The Making Memories Sea of Bellies will be exhibited at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals until 14 July 2019.The very first instalment of the Sea of Bellies was initiated by the Aboriginal midwives at Moree Base Hospital in 2004.
It has since been translated into communities in New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland.
For more information on Sea of Bellies you can visit www.seaofbellies.org.au featuring four films made in Forster, Brisbane, Nambucca Heads, Coffs Harbour and Moree.
Mater acknowledges the people and the Elders of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations who are the Traditional Owners of the land and seas of Australia.
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