Risky business: contested knowledge over safe birthing services for Aboriginal women

  • Kildea S
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Maternity services in Australia are becoming rationalised with contemporary, authoritative knowledge driving the provision of services under the premise that birth in larger regional and tertiary settings is the safest option. There is increasing evidence that families who live in rural and remote areas are not satisfied with having to travel long distances and be absent from their homes for weeks at a time for childbirth. This is particularly problematic for remote dwelling Aboriginal women, with evidence suggesting current maternity services and relocation for birth are culturally, socially and emotionally unsatisfactory and unsafe. The Indigenous knowledge around birthing that still exists in remote communities today, is not being acknowledged or incorporated into health service provision with the current 'risk equation' excluding the social, emotional and cultural risks that have been identified by the women themselves. Unlike the Inuit situation in Canada, which could provide leadership and advice for Australia, there has not been sufficient dialogue in Australia around the construction of risk and its importance in the birthing environment, particularly for Aboriginal women.




Kildea, S. (2006). Risky business: contested knowledge over safe birthing services for Aboriginal women. Health Sociology Review, 15(4), 387–396. https://doi.org/10.5172/hesr.2006.15.4.387

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