We are very proud to announce that Tracey Stephens has been nominated as a finalist in the national 2019 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards. Tracey plays a pivotal role at Monash Health as the Aboriginal Health Liaison Midwife and Aboriginal Graduate and Cadet Support Officer.

She is recognised for improving maternity and health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and babies for implementing culturally appropriate and safe maternity health care services.

An advocate for Aboriginal health, Tracey liaises with the community and acute hospital services to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies have access to appointments and adequate healthcare. To achieve this, Tracey has partnered with numerous external organisations and internal teams to ensure women are informed about the services they can access and all aspects of healthcare are addressed during their time at the hospital.

Tracey developed The Bubup Bag which is a new initiative to ensure Aboriginal expecting mothers and their families have the resources and information they need during and after pregnancy. All Aboriginal women who engage with Monash Women’s will be offered a Bubup Bag, as well as support from Tracey. The bag acts as a great conversation starter within our Women’s and Newborn service and aims to create a culturally aware and safe environment within our maternity departments.

As a result of Tracey’s hard work, the number of Aboriginal babies born at Monash Health has doubled, there has been a decrease in no shows for prenatal appointments, and she has built a strong partnership with the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) who now offers increased health programs that complement their current maternity services.

As a long-term advocate for culturally safe maternity practices, Tracey regularly provides cultural awareness training and services within hospitals to ensure they’re culturally sensitive when delivering care. In 2017, Tracey was awarded the Sally Gould Award recognising her achievements as a midwife and for her substantial contributions to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians through her work.

Through her determination and hard work, Tracey has been fundamental in improving the maternity care provided by Monash health to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

1. What does it mean to you to be a finalist for the Midwife of the Year Award in the 2019 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards? 

It’s very humbling to be nominated, but I am very excited because the role that I have been in for the last 15 months, is the exact reason why I became a midwife. I have always wanted to be a midwife that supports Aboriginal families and communities.

The importance of having Aboriginal midwives working with Aboriginal women, babies, and families is so important, and it’s my passion. I am proud that our numbers have increased, our KPI’s have improved, and through this, we have implemented so many great improvements across our healthcare system.

2. What do you plan on doing with the prize money if you win?

Originally I had planned on getting some much need resources for our team, but I have always wanted to pursue further education for myself. Therefore I would use the prize money to further educate myself. I have a strong passion for cultural safety and everything about Aboriginal Health.

3. What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?

Absolutely everything, it’s my dream job. I come to work because I love my role, and it doesn’t feel like work. Every day, I get the opportunity to work with women to achieve the best outcomes in their birthing journey. After birth, I am able to follow these women into the community and watch health babies and competent mothers thrive.

4. What tips do you have for young people pursuing a career in midwifery? 

It is the most rewarding job; I wish we had more Aboriginal midwives and more Aboriginal Programs that are in the mainstream hospital to support the Koorie Maternity services and the people who don’t go through this program. Monash Health and Bunurong work extremely close and have a close relationship. Michelle, Kel and I collaborate and complement each other. I consider them a close knit part of the fantastic work we do at Monash Health, and how great we are working for our community.