Sunshine Coast nurse Laura Easterbrook is going the extra mile to spearhead a new program to support newborn babies and their mothers who are experiencing hardships due to domestic violence.
Now, as part of this year’s 92.7 MIX FM Give Me 5 appeal, residents will have the chance to help this initiative come to life in the region’s public hospitals.
Ms Easterbrook is a clinical nurse consultant with the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) and works with at-risk children and families in the Child Protection Liaison Unit (Children’s Plus).
Seeing first hand the need for support, she applied to hospital charity Wishlist to fund a clinical nurse position for high-risk women and babies.
The full-time position will establish continuity of maternity care for high-risk and complex child protection cases.
There are currently around 80 women and babies receiving support through the local public health service, and the first 1000 days of life are identified as ‘crucial’ to the wellbeing of a newborn.
“What occurs during this crucial time can have profound consequences throughout life,” Ms Easterbrook says.
“Sadly, the highest mortality risk for mothers in Queensland occurs in the first 12 months following birth with poor outcomes linked to domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health.
“This program will see the development of a combined midwifery and child health nurse model to join forces with a Children’s Plus social worker. We anticipate this continuity of care approach will improve outcomes for mothers and babies’ health, and reduce the number placed into care.”
Ms Easterbrook envisions the initiative will also provide a strong foundation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and challenges that may arise before and after birth.
“We aim to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants being placed into out-of-home care before they are one,” she says. “Across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are removed from their homes at a rate of nine times that of non-Indigenous infants.
“Through the project, we hope to see more women participate in an environment where they don’t feel judged, stereotyped or stigmatised, so they can work with Health and Child Safety collaboratively and transparently.”