Wergaia/Wemba Wemba Midwife Skye Stewart Honored as Midwife of the Year

Wergaia/Wemba Wemba Midwife Skye Stewart Honored as Midwife of the Year

Skye Stewart, a dedicated Wergaia/Wemba Wemba midwife, was recently recognized for her exceptional contributions to Aboriginal families, receiving the prestigious Midwife of the Year award at the annual HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards in Melbourne. Wergaia/Wemba Wemba Midwife Skye Stewart Honored as Midwife of the Year

Stewart, who works with Red Nose Australia, developed the country’s first stillbirth support guide tailored for Aboriginal families. This initiative addresses the significant disparity in stillbirth rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“My cultural role and responsibility as an Aboriginal midwife is to do what I can to ensure that Aboriginal mothers and their babies stay safe, alive, well, and together,” Stewart said. “To be recognized with this award means I’ve paid attention to where it matters, and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. The award is a privilege, and I feel incredibly honored and humbled.”

Over 20 months, Stewart traveled more than 32,000 kilometers to ensure her guide was culturally relevant and effective for Aboriginal families. Her expertise lies in stillbirth, SIDS, and SUDI prevention, as well as bereavement care, known as “sorry business” in Aboriginal communities.

“My work is rewarding because it supports families experiencing vulnerability at an acutely distressing time,” she said. “One of the most rewarding things ever said to me was during the making of Jiba Pepeny: Star Baby. A mum told me, ‘You have to make this, Skye. No one is doing it for us. Take our voices and put them where people can listen so you can support our families.'”

Stewart plans to use her prize money to create a children’s book and additional resources to support families affected by stillbirth, particularly focusing on helping Aboriginal children navigate this challenging experience.

The awards also honored other exceptional contributions in healthcare:

  • Cathy Halmarick from Peninsula Health received the Nurse of the Year award for establishing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Hub in Southeastern Victoria, ensuring access to critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Healthy Communities Foundation Australia was awarded Organisation of the Year for improving primary healthcare access in remote and Aboriginal communities, and for creating the Dhirri-li Education for Work Centre, which trains Aboriginal people for health and social care roles.

Stewart’s recognition highlights the significant impact of culturally sensitive healthcare and the importance of supporting vulnerable families through dedicated, compassionate care.

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Source: https://nit.com.au/23-05-2024/11580/skye-stewarts-innovative-aboriginal-stillbirth-support-guide-earns-her-hesta-midwife-of-the-year

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