National midwifery update

At a national conference in 2023, I was excited to run into a midwifery professor I had learned from during my Bachelor of Midwifery. We talked about my journey since my graduate year, and when I mentioned that I had been working for the union she said, “I didn’t know there was a midwife at the ANMF.”

The Australian Nursing Federation changed our name in 2013 to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation to acknowledge the valuable skills and knowledge of midwife members. Most state and territory branches employ at least one professional officer with a midwifery background who is responsible for the midwifery portfolio. The Federal Office of the ANMF currently employs two professional officers registered as midwives.

Every month, these professional officers come together to discuss issues facing midwives around the country. The network celebrates wins from each Branch and learns from one another’s experience to agitate for better working conditions for midwives across the country. We contribute to national policy submissions on issues related to midwives and collaborate to appropriately represent our midwife members.

The ANMF is represented on the NMBA’s Midwifery Futures Project’s Expert Advisory Group and Working Advisory Group. In these groups, the ANMF has been advocating for workforce retention strategies such as midwifery-led models of care and public hospital ratios which are separate to nursing ratios and count the babies. In addition, the ANMF has advocated for block funding for maternity care and midwifery positions of leadership across all levels of government. The final report from the Midwifery Futures Project is expected by the end of 2024.

Midwives currently do not have access to upload to the My Health Record, though registered nurses do. The ANMF is in conversation with the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) about increasing access for midwives to allow them to upload to the My Health Record. The ANMF has also produced a webinar specifically targeted to midwives with the help of the ADHA, which is available at:

The valuable, woman-centred continuity of care experiences required of student midwives mean that midwifery students pay approximately $7,000 more per year than nursing students to complete their studies.1

The ANMF has welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of the ‘prac payment,’ which is an excellent first step towards financially supporting midwifery students while they learn to support women.

The ANMF has also worked to create Nurse Midwife Health Program Australia (NMHPA), a 24/7 national support service for nurses and midwives. The program provides confidential, evidence-based advice and referral to promote health for midwives, nurses, and students. Midwives within the ANMF have provided feedback about midwifery-specific issues to assist NMHPA. These include PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and vicarious trauma, low clinical supervision, coping with the demands of on-call work, and physical or moral injuries midwives can incur in the course of their work. Having these midwifery issues raised means NMHPA can better target their materials to the specific problems midwives in Australia face.

This year, the Government also announced $50 million in scholarships for nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives. Scheduled medicines endorsement is the way of the future for our midwifery workforce, and these scholarships will help to make endorsement financially viable for midwives. While only a small percentage of the midwifery workforce is currently endorsed, affordable pathways to endorsement will remove barriers to the additional qualification required. Midwives will be involved in every step of the process to ensure that as more endorsed midwives join the workforce, they are renumerated appropriately for their skill and education level.

As a midwife and member, how can you get involved in the midwifery-related work of the ANMF?

Midwives can become local branch members, promoting active membership participation, and facilitating two-way communication between ANMF members and officials. Midwives can be valuable union organisers and delegates, ensuring that midwifery-led care models and local midwifery-specific priorities are adequately addressed in enterprise bargaining agreements.

To hear more about any of these initiatives, or have your voice heard as a midwife to inform the broader work of the ANMF, please contact your state or territory Branch.


1 Foster, W, Sweet, L, Graham, K. Midwifery students experience continuity of care: A mixed methods study. Midwifery 2021. 98. doi: 10.1016/j.mid.2021.102996.

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