Improving and Integrating Urban Indigenous Health Services

Close this search box.

History of BiOC

10 years of the BiOC Model

Our deadly BiOC staff – Gwen Blom, Helena Williams, Bec Watego and Kendi-Grant Freeman talk about how it’s been working with our mums and bubs over the last 10 years and what it means to create a safe birthing space for Mob.

Established in 2013 in the South Brisbane region, the BiOC program began as a partnership between the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), the Brisbane Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS Brisbane) and the Mater Mothers’ Hospital, who came together to collectively respond to a review of the Mater Murri Antenatal Clinic which had delivered culturally safe and responsive care for Indigenous families at the Mater over the course of a decade, but had not been able to impact the widening gap in birth outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and babies. A Queensland Health grant was subsequently provided to IUIH to finally enable establishment of a community-based BiOC Hub, and for expansion of the team and the service to be able to reach more families, scaling up from 120 to 250 births per annum.

The BiOC service, designed for Indigenous families, provides a unique model of family-centred holistic care that has closed the gap in some of the most important perinatal indicators impacting life expectancy. Since inception, BiOC has delivered comprehensive, evidence-based, and culturally informed services, that have a strong focus on social and emotional health and wellbeing of families.  

The model is an award-winning maternity service with two Lancet Global Health publications, released March of 2021 confirming best practice and in March 2023 confirming the model is more cost effective.  

A National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant funded study of BiOC found unprecedented outcomes for Indigenous babies born through the program. Odds of preterm birth rates were reduced by 50% and were better than rates for mainstream services – 6.6% for BiOC compared to 8.2% for mainstream services. Outcomes for women accessing BiOC compared to standard care (2013-2019) published in the Lancet Global Health Journal, May 2021.

BiOC had its second publication in the Lancet Regional Health confirming the model not only improves clinical outcomes but is more cost effective. 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.

  1. Indigenous-led, partnership model of governance and service operation.
  2. Continuity of midwifery care provider throughout pregnancy, birthing and into the post-natal period.
  3. Continuity of Indigenous Family Support Practitioner (FSP), a unique role in the BiOC model, engaging and supporting families throughout the pregnancy, walking alongside the family to address key social, economic and cultural determinants of health.
  4. Community-based hub – a safe and welcoming gathering place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, babies and families.
  5. Core focus on growth and development of a skilled Indigenous birthing workforce – recognising its importance in providing a culturally safe and responsive service, and in directly addressing a key social determinant of health and well-being.
  6. Integration of a multidisciplinary team of psychosocial health and well-being services and supports.
  7. Facilitated access to partnership programs and specialists.

The meaning of our artwork

The centre circle represents the family and birthing. But around this, you will notice the people symbols are arranged in different ways, such as woman by herself, woman with child, man and child, two women and child, and two men and child. This is to represent all people involved in the growing of deadly families through a family-centred approach – but they are all generating out to culture and cultural protocols. There are four main sections to represent the main four sections of IUIH – YBB, Kambu, ATSICHS and KalWun with each of these having other smaller community circles extended out to represent clinics amongst our community. Circles with our cultural markings are added to represent both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who will benefit from the Birthing in Our Community Program. 

~Elaine Chambers~

BiOC artwork

BiOC's journey

Birthing in Our Community is here to support our families to build a healthy, strong and deadly family. In this video, listen to the BiOC South team yarn about why they think the program is so important!