Maternity Services and Early Years

VACCHO recognises that healthy pregnancies and positive early parenting experiences have the power to transform the health and wellbeing of the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The Koori Maternity Strategy team supports Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and health services to ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families experience culturally responsive and best-practice maternity care. Thriving in the First Three Years is a key focus area on VACCHO’s most recent Strategic Plan – On Solid Ground.

Koori Maternity Strategy Team

VACCHO’s Koori Maternity Strategy team work collaboratively with ACCOs and a range of stakeholders to improve availability of, and access to, culturally safe maternity care to all Aboriginal families across Victoria.

We do this by:
• Meeting with a range of government and non-government stakeholders to drive systemic reform
• Supporting ACCOs and other health providers to deliver the Koori Maternity Services (KMS) program
• Providing tailored professional development opportunities and workshops to the KMS workforce, in partnership with Maternity Services Education Program (MSEP)
• Facilitating professional network opportunities and meetings for the KMS workforce
• Developing a suite of culturally centred maternity resources (the Boorai Bundle) for Aboriginal families
• Engaging in projects and research to build knowledge and evidence relating to culturally safe maternity care delivery

We work with:

• Department of Health
• Safer Care Victoria
• Maternity Services Education Program
• iSISTAquit
• QuitVIC
• Red Nose
• Dental Health Services Victoria
• Every Week Counts National Preterm Birth Reduction Collaborative
• Centre for Research Excellence in Stillbirth
• HealthAbility’s Balit Booboop Narrkwarren (Baby Makes 3)
• University of Melbourne Indigenous Health Equity’s Replanting the Birthing Trees project
• ACCOs, hospitals and other health services
• VACCHO’s Education and Training Unit and universities

If you are a health service or hospital looking to review or establish culturally responsive maternity care – please contact us for support.

Koori Maternity Service Program

The Koori Maternity Service (KMS) program provides access to holistic, culturally safe maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families during pregnancy. KMS also supports non-Aboriginal women having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies.

This state-wide program is delivered by Midwives, Aboriginal Health Workers and Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers who work in a complementary team of two or more health professionals. Each KMS program tailor their model of care to the local community.

The KMS program was first established in 2000 at 8 sites across Victoria and today the program has grown to 14 sites. Eleven KMS programs are located in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and three have been established in public hospitals.

KMS program objectives and aims

The objective of the KMS program is to improve access to culturally responsive and high-quality primary maternity care. Each KMS team:
• Provides pre-conception health, antenatal care, childbirth education, postnatal care, breastfeeding assistance and early parenting support
• Facilitates relationships between women and birthing hospitals
• Embeds culture and health promotion activities into holistic pregnancy care
• Provides extra support for families who may be experiencing vulnerabilities
• Utilise trust and relationships to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and babies

The KMS program also strives to improve health outcomes and specifically aims to:
• Optimise the health and wellbeing of women and their babies
• Identify and manage maternal and foetal risk factors, particularly early in pregnancy
• Reduce perinatal morbidity and mortality, including incidence of preterm birth and low birth weight.

Other maternity care options available for Aboriginal families in Victoria:


• Aboriginal Health Midwife at Monash Health
• Baggarrook Caseload Midwifery at Royal Women’s Hospital
• Galinjera Maternity Program at Western Health
• Nangnak Baban Murrup Midwifery Group Practice at Mercy Hospital for Women
• Nangnak Wan Myeek Program at Werribee Mercy Hospital and Mercy Hospital for Women

Loddon Mallee
•Yurpilang First Nations pregnancy care at Castlemaine Health


VACCHO has developed and compiled a list of useful resources relating to family planning, pregnancy and child development. These resources are easy to access and available publicly for members of Community and Member organisations to access.


RESOURCES – external links


Red Nose: Advice Hub – Red Nose has a range of resources available for parents, carers, and health professions to help reduce the risk of sudden and unexpected death during pregnancy, infancy and childhood. Red Nose have a range of resources and advice on Safe Sleeping, Safer Pregnancy and more.

iSISTAQuit – A wrap-around support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are wanting to quit smoking. Sign up to the #smokefreesistahood today!

Koori Maternity Services Guidelines – Developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, this resource gives voice to the wisdom and expertise of Victoria’s Koori Maternity Service (KMS) workforce.


Raising Children – First 1000 days: Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents – The first 1000 days of life are key to life and are key to lifelong health and wellbeing. This resource provides information and advice about child development, nutrition, breastfeeding, relationships and kinship and much more.


SMS4Dads Deadly Dads – A FREE service that sends short texts with tips, info and links to your phone just when you and your baby need it. Specially tailored for First Nations dads.


Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) – ABA is Australia’s peak breastfeeding information and support service. ABA provides up-to-date information and continuing education for thousands of health professionals working with mothers and babies.


Family Planning Victoria (FPV) – FPV’s purpose is to strengthen the primary care and community-based service system to deliver reproductive and sexual health services and support people to make decisions about their reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing that are right for them.


Birthing on Country – Birthing on Country is a metaphor for the best start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies and their families, an appropriate transition to motherhood and parenting for women and an integrated, holistic and culturally appropriate model of care for all.

Koori Maternity Services Research Projects

Aboriginal Early Years Health VACCHO Scoping Project

This Project reviewed government policies and strategies relevant to Aboriginal early years (zero-eight years of age) health as well as organisational and workforce development needs to meet Aboriginal early years targets.

The project report is available for download.


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