Shakira Pedro
Shakira Pedro

Shakira Pedro

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022

Australian Catholic University, QLD

Bachelor of Midwifery
Scholarship Awarded 2022

Sponsored by:
Lyndal Brown (Harris Estate)

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?

I am a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait woman of the Bindal and Wagadagum tribes. Becoming a registered midwife on Thursday Island will allow me to evoke change and introduce traditional pregnancy and birthing customs. My passion for midwifery stems from my own unpleasant experiences whilst in the care of the public healthcare system. I am highly motivated to create change to ensure my daughters and future generations do not encounter the current healthcare system in the manner I have.

I am contributing to Indigenous health by simply becoming a registered healthcare professional and practicing in my community. I am the first in my family to pursue a high education and the only student currently in my community studying a healthcare discipline. My presence in the maternity unit has already made a difference with an increase in woman’s engagement with the service. I hope to further extend my influence to the outer islands and the Northern Peninsula Area.

A goal of mine is to create an Indigenous friendly maternity environment and service on Thursday Island. I plan to pitch the idea of Indigenous themed birthing suites; the Red Dust suite to represent the Northern Peninsular Area landscape and Malu (Ocean Water) Suite for Torres Strait representation. These suites will be a sacred safe space fro women’s business in the hospital to allow women to feel connected to the land and their ancestors during their labour and birth. This may potentially decrease medical intervention, instrumental births, inductions and cesarean rates. Further promoting normal labour and birth mimicking the birthing process prior to colonization.

My long-term vision for the Thursday Island maternity services is to develop culturally appropriate perinatal education resources, workshops and classes. These programs will be focused on women of this region specifically, cater to their specific community needs and be delivered in community. The Torres Strait Islands and Northern Peninsula area are separated into clusters and communities, all have their own language dialect, customs, traditions and beliefs. These programs will deliver all pregnancy birth and postnatal information in native language and utilise community female elders and Aunties to further encourage engagement and provide information. My aim is to assist in the close the gap campaign and increase life quality and expectancy for all community members through maternity care.

Current Progressive Report

Semester 2, 2022, personally and academically was very challenging and disappointing. I was required to repeat a second year subject due to a technicality with a requirement I was unable to meet due to where I live geographically. I am required to complete a clinical placement for a specific period of time in a metro area, during this placement I am required to recruit pregnant women at a certain gestation and follow her throughout her pregnancy during the time I am completing clinical placement; as a requirement towards my bachelor’s degree. I was unable to recruit as I was rostered in other areas of maternity i.e., birth suite, caesarean section day, postnatal maternity outreach, lactation consultant assistance and postnatal ward. I had limited exposure in antenatal clinical therefore unable to recruit sufficient women. Due to this set back it has taken a toll on my motivation and commitment to continue studying. However, my family, partner and children have held me accountable and continue to push me through my studies.

Academically I am on par with the course content, I am performing well and independently as a third-year midwifery student. I am linking the pathophysiology to the care I am providing women, infant and their families. I am confident within my practice and continue to strive to perfect my craft when caring for complex and high-risk women, this aspect of my care is extremely important as I plan on going back to my home communities and caring for my own women within community. Overall, I am content with the progress I am making with my studies, I will be graduating at a later date due to the setback. However, I am confident I will pass and go onto become a registered midwife within the near future.

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