The History of the W. A. Branch of the Australian College of Midwives
Sadly, despite a call out to members we have been unable to find any documents related to the ACM WA Branch before 2006, which is only 16 years ago. The ACM WA Branch has never owned any premises therefore no real place to store information prior to retaining digital records. There is evidence of an executive committee ‘busy bee’ in 2012 when the Branch needed to vacate the temporary space provided in a ‘donga’ on-site at King Edward Memorial Hospital, which was obviously too efficient!
I am the only remaining Life Member of the WA Branch following the death of a dear friend and colleague Jill Thompson in 2021. As often happens I realized too late that I should have asked Jill more questions about the early days of the Branch as I did not arrive in WA from the UK until 1992. I hope that this dearth of information will remind us of the importance of retaining and recording WA Branch activities in future. Hence the story of the WA Branch is a work in progress that we hope to expand as more information becomes avaialble.
When was the ACM WA Branch formed?
In 1978, the National Midwives Association was formed within the RANF from Midwifery Special Interest Groups in Victoria, NSW, and SA. It is unclear what was happening in WA at that time however by 1982 there was a Midwifery Special Interest Group in every State and Territory. Midwives W. McDonald and Judy Davis referred to the WA Branch of the National Midwives Association based in Perth in a publication ‘History of Midwifery Practice in Australia and the Western Pacific Regions’ for the 20th congress of the International Confederation of Midwives held in Sydney in 1984. Judy was a member of the organising committee for that conference. There were active ACM sub-branches in the Southwest and Goldfields regions of WA that no longer exist that we need to explore further. Midwives based in Port Hedland expressed an interest in forming a Northwest subgroup in 2008 however this was never progressed. The National Midwives Association became known as the Australian College of Midwives in 1987.
The current ACM WA Branch Chairperson is Jodie Atkinson who is a passionate Midwife Educator based at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth. The position of ACM National President has been held by two WA midwives in recent years: Tracy Martin from 2011 – 2012 and Terri Barrett from 2017 – 2020. Dr. Zoe Bradfield, WA midwife academic and researcher is currently the ACM Vice-President.
How does ACM WA Branch assist midwives?
The WA Branch has a strong history of promoting education and support for local midwives. State conferences and other educational activities have proven beneficial for midwives for many years. Perth has been fortunate to host three ACM National conferences, the first I think was in 1991 then not again until 2004 and most recently in 2018.
The WA Branch supports midwives through the Sr Francesca Memorial Fund, which was established in memory of the contribution made to midwifery education in WA by the late Sister Francesca Brennan. The objectives of the fund are to provide financial support for ACM WA Branch members to undertake projects or research related to the promotion of education and practice of midwifery, to attend local, national, and international midwifery conference or to undertake study tours to investigate midwifery education and practice.
The ACM WA Branch also funds an annual membership award for a midwifery student graduating from WA based universities. The student, who is chosen by the university course coordinator, must have made a significant contribution to the midwifery profession during the course, demonstrated significant commitment to professional development and achieved a high standard of documentation in the Clinical Practice Portfolio.
I am hoping that this short summary may be read and shared with colleagues who may know more about the WA Branch to enable us to add to this section of the Australian Midwifery Project website.
Prepared for International Day of the Midwife, 5 May 2022
Prepared on behalf of the ACM WA Branch by Janice Butt
Life Member ACM, and member of the ACM Midwifery History Project Steering Group