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

The first semester of 2023 was challenging as I had many personal obstacles to overcome. My personal life overshadowed my study time therefore, delaying my weekly learning, I did however, manage to understand and learn the main concepts of the subjects; and apply the knowledge in my assessments and clinical practice.

I have learnt from the MIDW335 Babies Needing Extra Care subject, that I am a “woman’s midwife”, meaning I am only interested in and get more satisfaction caring for pregnant, laboring and birthing women and their families. Caring for neonates and infants was outside of my comfort zone, however, I found it very interesting, specifically the knowledge regarding Prematurity and Neonatal resuscitation. This subject and knowledge, I believe is beyond valuable for my personal skill set for when the time comes to return and work within my small Indigenous community.

This subject and my neonatal intensive care clinical experience has forced me to reconsider my personal and professional philosophy regarding healthcare. As some of the experiences/things I’ve seen have reinforced my philosophy; At the same time made me question my own practice. When it comes to the family’s involvement, hospital policy and procedures regarding infants that are severely unwell and/or suffer from Hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy. From this I have taken the time to reflect on my practice, belief and personal values as an up-and-coming Midwife.

The first semester for my personal growth has helped shape my vision of what I want my practice to look like as a Midwife when providing palliative care for a person and/or infant and their families. I have learnt how to separate emotions and maintain professionalism, what to say and what not to say and how to truly care for a family during this difficult time. Overall, this semester has been a great learning experience as a student, it has in many ways helped me redefine and thoroughly reconsider what kind of Midwife and healthcare professional I want to be once I graduate.

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