Lesley: The 1981 ICM meeting in Brighton UK was another formative occasion. I had submitted an abstract that was accepted. Somehow, I met up with Pam Hayes, who was a delegate there with Margaret Peters. Pam and I shared a hotel room with lots of laughs and memories that I will never forget and always treasure. It was here that we nominated to have ICM in Australia. We were successful and three years of extraordinarily hard work ensued. My memory is that Margaret did virtually all of the hard work in the committees.
Pat: That sounds like a milestone and a massive project for so few of you?
Lesley: Absolutely. A small group of Australian midwives hosting the International Confederation of Midwives Congress in Sydney in 1984 was certainly a milestone for the midwifery profession in this country. I was the secretary of the national organising group as well as representing the ACT. Pam Hayes represented NSW; Margaret Peters, Victoria; and Jenny Cooling, South Australia. Judy Davis was also at these meetings; she was getting WA up and running at the time.
Margaret paid a leading role in the business side of the meetings. This was such hard work for a small executive plus a couple of Sydneysiders (some of whom are no longer with us) who worked extraordinarily hard to make this happen so wonderfully well.
The ICM Congress laid out a clear picture of the work to be done if Australian midwives were to aspire to become equals with midwives from all around the world, with midwifery recognised as a profession in its own right – separate from nursing. We were small in number but we had the energetic leadership of Margaret Peters and Pam Hayes, which meant that we hosted a hugely successful conference, which is still talked about today, and which put us on the map globally.
I will never forget the opening ceremony at the Opera House where the delegates and their flags were announced as they came down the aisles and up onto the stage. I was the MC for this process – and was both terrified and proud at the same time. We had drinks and canapes at sunset on the Opera house forecourt, overlooking the harbour. Again, a moment of great pride for Australian midwives.
The ICM meeting was profoundly important, a milestone, for Australian midwifery. I think the activism to get ourselves away from the ANF as an independent organisation was really important. Many Australian midwives came to the conference, and even though we were not Incorporated with branches in each state, it acted as motivation for many of us to get our own branches up and running. The modest financial profit from the conference laid down the foundations for the acquisition of the assets that the College has today, including the national office.
Pat: So that momentum from ICM inspired midwives to get involved in growing the profession here?
Lesley: Yes it did.
Read more from Lesley’s talk with Pat Brodie here…