The School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine at Australian Catholic University (ACU) [Melbourne] and Northern Provincial Hospital (NPH) in Santo have had a long standing professional relationship that has developed over the past 10 years. A small number of ACU nursing and midwifery students have had the opportunity to travel to Santo and work alongside the local hospital staff at NPH each year for 2 week study tours.
Members of the ACU teaching team provide clinical support to the students during their time on the wards at NPH. Midwifery students have the opportunity to work with Ni-Van midwives in the provision of care across the childbearing continuum. The students provide care in the antenatal setting, during labour and birth and in the postnatal ward. The maternity ward has a small special care nursery where the students also have the opportunity of providing care to unwell or premature babies.
The ACU teaching team have worked to develop strong relationships with the hospital staff and communicate regularly. The students undertake fundraising activities and source donations from companies in order to provide much needed equipment and supplies to the hospital. The students donate a portion of their luggage allowance to carrying the donated items to Santo.
“I could not rate the experience more highly. It is the most amazing experience I have had through ACU, and has given me great inspiration for my future career … and as a Healthcare Professional.”
“…this experience was the best I could have asked for. It really changed my life and it really made me into a new person. It would never have been the same without [the teachers]. ..how we were encouraged was a real blessing.”
“The experience of trust and autonomy was an invaluable experience… The women were amazing, the births were amazing, the staff were amazing, I had the best time - even more wonderful than I could have ever imagined…The best experience of my life even.”
"To see how the midwives at NPH work with such little resources was an incredible thing to experience. The women of Vanuatu are humble and the way in which they make things work with such little, is inspiring. They are grateful for any help or assistance they receive. Basket Blong Mama is going to make so many women happy."
“What a privilege to be able to go to Santo, Vanuatu to see midwifery in another culture. The hospital was basic but the women weren't fussed by the simplicity of their surrounds, if there wasn't a sheet, they used their lavalava (sarong), if there was no pillow, their family brought one in. The midwifery team was energetic, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their women; they laboured without fuss and it was amazing to observe them. It was beautiful. …… I hope to be able to do it all again!”
“My expectations for what I hoped to experience in Vanuatu were met and then also so much more. The way in which the women support each other was truly a beautiful thing to see and be a part of. The conditions were challenging but we quickly acclimatised and worked with what we had. The midwifery staff were so generous in their time and support for us and we learnt so much from them. I felt that I gained so much insight into cultural safety as more than just a concept. All in all an invaluable experience that will stay with me and continue to inform my practice.”
"The Vanuatu Study tour was an amazing midwifery learning experience as well as a journey of self discovery, that I will take with me for a lifetime…… I felt an overwhelming sense of honor and privilege to work alongside the amazing midwives, women and families. I had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of a completely new culture and learnt new ways to support and guide women and their families through the childbearing continuum. The women in labour walking down the dim, quite corridor wearing only their brightly coloured sarongs, and only needing to look up at you and smile to feel your encouragement and reassurance; their support person literally by their side for hours on end is an image that will stay with me forever .“
The midwifery students call for items to be donated to create gift packs to give to women upon leaving the maternity unit – they include both new and second hand baby clothes, singlets, hats, blankets, disposable menstrual pads, underwear and other needed items. 2014 saw the students provide over 80 gift packs to women.
2015 will see us provide 50 pad packs to women alongside their postnatal gift pack