Improving and Integrating Urban Indigenous Health Services


Improved birthing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
families generates savings to the health system

A birthing service established by three South East Queensland health organisations has reduced preterm birth rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies by 38% and demonstrated significant cost savings to the health system.

Results published in the Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific this week highlighted improved outcomes for women having a baby through the Birthing in Our Community service. The reduction in preterm birth rates meant that women accessing the program required fewer costly interventions, procedures and neonatal admissions, resulting in savings of $4,810 per mother/baby pair. Additionally, the BiOC service reduced two thirds of women’s out of pocket costs by bringing the service closer to home.

The cost-effectiveness study concluded that replication of the Birthing in Our Community service across Australia has the potential to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born preterm by 965 each year, thereby potentially saving the Australian health system $86,994,021 per annum.

The Birthing in Our Community service and model of care was established in 2013 by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane and Mater Health in Brisbane in response to a need for women who are pregnant with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander baby to access culturally and clinically safe care throughout their pregnancy and at birth.

Ms Renee Blackman, ATSICHS Brisbane CEO, said that “the success of the Birthing in Our Community service shows what can be achieved when partners work together with a shared vision and a commitment to Aboriginal-led models of care”.

“Investing in developing an Indigenous workforce to support women has been key to keeping women engaged in the program and also supports employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the region”, she said. “Every mum at Birthing in Our Community gets their own midwife 24/7 working side by side with a multidisciplinary workforce to make sure all our women feel confident and safe to access the care they need for themselves and their bub”.

Lead researcher, Professor Sue Kildea, said the results from the BiOC service are unprecedented. “Knowing that nationally the preterm rates for First Nations babies have not reduced since Close the Gap was announced in 2008, it is extraordinary to see a 38% reduction,” she said. ‘When a cost-effectiveness lens is applied, the economic impact is also considerable”.

IUIH CEO, Adrian Carson, said that the improved outcomes demonstrate the success of Aboriginal community controlled health services (CCHSs) leading system reform with mainstream maternity services. “The CCHS sector has long advocated that models of care specifically designed for First Nations people and delivered by CCHSs can achieve better outcomes for our people be more cost-effective. This research provides strong evidence for replication of this service model across Australia,” Mr Carson said.

Mr Carson said, “the model is achieving preterm birth rates for First Nations families that are better than those achieved by the Australian health system for the general population. Supporting its expansion makes sense from both a healthcare delivery and economic perspective, and I would like to see the savings generated from the model reinvested into the establishment of more Birthing in Our Community services across Australia.”

The service is First Nations led, culturally responsive, clinically and cost effective and popular with all stakeholders. Such a model has the potential to address much needed reform in the Australian health system and improve birth outcomes for First Nations mothers and babies in Australia with significant cost benefits.

The full article, Birthing on Country service compared to standard care for First Nations Australians: a cost-effectiveness analysis from a health system perspective study, can be found at:

For further information and interview:

Renée Brown

Manager – IUIH Communications and Marketing


Mobile: 0428 792 535.


2022 Aunty Pamela Mam Oration

The Aunty Pamela Mam Oration; is held annually by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in partnership with the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, as a ceremonial act of honouring Aunty Pamela’s legacy and all that she taught us. 

Join us as we reflect on not only our learnings from Aunty Pam but the socio-political factors our communities and organisations in South East Queensland will need to consider with the move to embed a Voice to Parliament.  

Where: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Mezzanine Level (M3)

When: Tuesday, 29 November 2022 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

RSVP by the 5pm 21st November 2022

The theme of the 2022 Aunty Pamela Mam Oration is Our Voice – Our Governance: Action on Our Terms of Reference.  

Nearly 50 years ago, Community Control Organisations of South East Queensland were birthed in a climate of inequity and a failure of the Government of the day to act. Under the leadership of Aunty Pamela Mam; and other notable Community Members, a political mobilisation occurred to disrupt the status quo and ensure the voices of our people were heard.

But in the succeeding years, have we become accustomed to being service providers rather than governors of our own circumstances?

Orator – Profession Megan Davis

Our Orator for this years event is Professor Megan Davis; a Cobble Cobble Woman of the Barrungam nation.

Prof. Davis is the Pro Vice-Chancellor Society (PVCS) at UNSW Sydney. Professor Davis is also the Balnaves Chair of Constitutional Law, a Professor of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law Centre UNSW Law.

She is a renowned constitutional lawyer and public law expert, focusing on the human rights of First Nations peoples. She has been a leading lawyer on constitutional reform for the recognition of First Nations rights for two decades and has led the Uluru Statement from the Heart work for the past five years. She was a Commissioner on the QLD Commission of Inquiry into Youth Detention Centres in 2016 and was the Chair and author of ‘Family is Culture’, an inquiry into NSW Aboriginal Out of Home care (2017-2019).

She is a globally recognised expert in Indigenous rights and was elected by the UN Human Rights Council to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples based in Geneva in 2017 and again in 2019 (2019-2022) and was previously elected by the Economic and Social Council in New York serving for six years as an expert member and Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN Headquarters in New York (2011-2016).

Prof Davis is an Acting Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. She is a Commissioner on the Australian Rugby League Commission, a director on the Cowboys Community Foundation Board, a Commissioner for Western Australia Rugby League Commission and director on the International Rugby League board.


2022 First Nations Health Equity in Action Conference – Speakers Announced

The Inaugural SEQ First Nations Health Equity in Action Conference will have keynote speakers from across the health system, including:

  • Mr. Adrian Carson, CEO, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health
  • Ms. Renee Blackman, CEO, ATSICHS Brisbane Ltd.
  • Mr. Kieran Chilcott, CEO, Kalwun Development Corporation
  • Mr. Jim McGowan, Chair, Metro North Hospital and Health Service
  • Ms. Libby Dunston, CEO, Brisbane North Primary Health Care Network
  • Prof. James Ward, Director, UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health
  • Mr. Shaun Drummond, Director-General, Queensland Health
  • Mr. David Gow, Chair, Children’s Health Queensland


Please note, the progression and implementation of the SEQ First Nations Health Equity Strategy relies on the collective of the IUIH Network, SEQ HHSs, Children’s Health Queensland, the Mater Hospital and SEQ PHNs working together over the two days of the conference to make important decisions.

Please also note, due to the size and nature of the conference and the content being discussed, it is key that decision makers and key staff are involved throughout the two days.

If you are unable to attend but would like to send a proxy for consideration please forward the details of your proxy to

Check out the latest program below