Cherisse Buzzacott

Chair – Board of Trustees

I am an Arrernte woman from Alice Springs, NT and I am a midwife. I was the first student to graduate from the Australian Catholic University (ACU) Bachelor of Midwifery Indigenous- course, an Away-from-Base delivery mode. This allowed women from the NT to travel to Brisbane for study blocks but remain in community, where I worked as a student midwife with Alukura. Alukura was a birth centre in the 90s but is now a women’s health centre that provides antenatal and postnatal care as well as well women’s health. I am the first in my family with a university degree.

I moved to Alice Springs to continue to support women in my community and all visiting areas of Central Australia, near and far. I do this amongst raising my family, 1yr old Angus and 6yr old twins Douglas and Dylan.

I remain involved with my university ACU often through tutoring first-year students and I often mentor Aboriginal midwives and students because I know how difficult the journey of an Aboriginal midwife starting out in her career. I was also the recipient of the ACU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Award which led to receiving the Alumni of the Year award in 2016.

My experience varies from working in a large inner-city tertiary hospital to working in Alice Springs Hospital, where I spent 1 year as an outreach midwife travelling to a remote community. I have experience working in the areas of birthing, antenatal and postnatal care and, completed my women’s health training which allowed me to practice autonomously while in community. This role was with Midwives Outbush (MOB), which was an outreach, continuity-based model that began with four midwives working from the maternity ward travelling to remote Aboriginal communities on a monthly basis and providing a clinic within the hospital when those Aboriginal women came to Alice Springs for their ‘Sit-down’ (2-4weeks before the birth of their baby). I was able to consult with other midwives in my team to support and follow-up with those women to ensure they felt supported at a time when they were isolated and vulnerable; also case-managing to ensure fluid transition from hospital back to community. I was promoted to team leader on the maternity ward within the first couple of years at ASH.

Most recently before moving back to Alice Springs I was based in Canberra working on Birthing on Country. I was employed at the Australian College of Midwives working as the Project Officer for the Birthing on Country (BoC) Project and co-Chairing the Birthing on Country Strategic Committee. The BoC Project was established to support the Birthing on Country movements in two sites. The focus is improving maternity care delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies, working in collaboration with Aboriginal women to ensure the provision of culturally safe care to their women and families. Birthing on Country movement is strong in Australia and will continue to grow through producing more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwives and health workers to provide culturally appropriate care to our Mobs.

My involvement to the Rhodanthe Lipsett Trust Fund as a Director will ensure representation of the wider community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwives and students. As a recipient of both scholarship’s category A and B, I appreciate the work of the RLIMCF in support of workforce development and as an outcome, the improvement of access and equality to health for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

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