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Aboriginal Families Study: a population-based study keeping community and policy goals in mind right from the start

Mary Buckskin1, Jackie Ah Kit2, Karen Glover3, Amanda Mitchell1, Roxanne Miller4, Donna Weetra4, Jan Wiebe4, Jane S Yelland4, Jonathan Newbury5, Jeffrey Robinson6 and Stephanie J Brown47*

Author Affiliations

1 Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, 9 King William Road, Unley, South Australia 5061, Australia

2 Women’s and Children’s Health Network, 295 South Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia

3 Pangula Mannamurna Inc, 191 Commercial Road West, Mt Gambier, South Australia 5290, Australia

4 Healthy Mothers Healthy Families Research Group, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Flemington Road, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia

5 Discipline of Rural Health, The University of Adelaide, PO Box 3200, Port Lincoln, South Australia 5005, Australia

6 Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia

7 School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia

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International Journal for Equity in Health 2013, 12:41  doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-41

Published: 14 June 2013



Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are between two to five times more likely to die in childbirth than non-Aboriginal women, and two to three times more likely to have a low birthweight infant. Babies with a low birthweight are more likely to have chronic health problems in adult life. Currently, there is limited research evidence regarding effective interventions to inform new initiatives to strengthen antenatal care for Aboriginal families.


The Aboriginal Families Study is a cross sectional population-based study investigating the views and experiences of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women having an Aboriginal baby in the state of South Australia over a 2-year period. The primary aims are to compare the experiences and views of women attending standard models of antenatal care with those accessing care via Aboriginal Family Birthing Program services which include Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) Workers as members of the clinical team; to assess factors associated with early and continuing engagement with antenatal care; and to use the information to inform strengthening of services for Aboriginal families. Women living in urban, regional and remote areas of South Australia have been invited to take part in the study by completing a structured interview or, if preferred, a self-administered questionnaire, when their baby is between 4–12 months old.


Having a baby is an important life event in all families and in all cultures. How supported women feel during pregnancy, how women and families are welcomed by services, how safe they feel coming in to hospitals to give birth, and what happens to families during a hospital stay and in the early months after the birth of a new baby are important social determinants of maternal, newborn and child health outcomes. The Aboriginal Families Study builds on consultation with Aboriginal communities across South Australia. The project has been implemented with guidance from an Aboriginal Advisory Group keeping community and policy goals in mind right from the start. The results of the study will provide a unique resource to inform quality improvement and strengthening of services for Aboriginal families.

Antenatal care; Health inequalities; Indigenous health; Maternal health; Participatory research; Perinatal health outcomes