Ngangk Waangening: Mothers' Stories

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Fremantle Press, Aug 12, 2021 - Childbirth - 104 pages
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Ngangk Waangening: mothers' stories is a unique book which records 12 Elder and Senior Aboriginal women's recollections of their grandmother's traditional midwifery skills and their own experiences of childbearing. Providing insights into their diverse circumstances and life journeys as well as documenting changes over time, the women's stories highlight the importance of the cultural and educational role of Aboriginal women during childbearing. The stories are powerful and real and provide a window of reflection into the life of each mother as she shares her moving, lived experience. Ngangk Waangening is both a legacy for the women's families and a critical resource for midwives, doctors and others. The knowledge shared by the women alongside clearly articulated learning opportunities aims to create better understanding of Aboriginal women's cultural expectations during childbearing. Ngangk Waangening has emerged from the groundbreaking Birthing on Noongar Boodjar research, a five year study led by Professor Rhonda Marriott AM, a proud Nyikina woman and Ngangk Yira Director. The research was the first of its kind to ask Aboriginal women in detail about their experiences of birthing on Country - Noongar Boodjar, much of which is now highly urbanised. What emerged were findings of strongly held and continuing cultural practices despite little support for these within the health system. The Elder and Senior women's stories were part of the project, originally recorded in 2018 and produced as posters for presentation at the Birthing on Noongar Boodjar research symposium. Following intense interest by symposium participants in the stories, Noongar Elder Aunty Doreen Nelson declared that a book should be published and agreed to lead the process as a co-editor. As Aunty Doreen says 'Before colonisation, Aboriginal grandmothers were the traditional midwives. These women had the skills and experience of knowing what was the best practice to use'.The Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity at Murdoch University is honoured to have supported the women in this endeavour. Funded by the Western Australian Government Department of Health and Murdoch University, Ngangk Waangening is a testament to the power of stories to convey important knowledge. It is our hope that midwives, midwifery educators and others working the health system will read these stories and apply the learnings into their everyday practice. Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people starts with deep listening and acknowledging the influence of the past on the present and future. Pregnancy and childbirth presents a significant opportunity for the health system to rise to the challenge of truly closing the gap. Ngangk Waangening: mothers' stories will contribute to this effort.

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About the author (2021)

Aunty Doreen Nelson (Author)
Aunty Doreen Nelson is a Noongar woman, born on Balladong Country in the Wheatbelt area of Western Australia. Her family are the Jettas, the Yarrans and the Michaels, and she has lived for most of her life in the country but moved down to Perth in the last 30 years.

Rhonda Marriott AM (Author)
Rhonda Marriott was born in Derby, WA, and is a descendant of Kimberley Nyikina Aboriginal people and has devoted her adult life to nursing and midwifery in both clinical and academic roles. Much of Ngangk Yira's ethos is based on her experience over five decades, and almost three decades as an academic. In 2003, she became the inaugural Head of Ngangk Yira's School of Nursing. In additon to leading Ngangk Yira's research projects, Rhonda is a chief investigator for several NHMRC projects.

Tracey Reibel (Author)
Tracy Reibel is a passionate advocate for the routine provision of woman-centred care in maternity health systems, with over 25 years experience conducting research into maternal and infant health. In her role at Ngangk Yira, Tracy collaborates with a national network of colleagues, undertaking programs of work aimed at strengthening maternity care systems so these are culturally safe and meet Aboriginal women's cultural and personal needs.

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