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Lotterywest grant boosts ‘Baby Coming-You Ready’ project

Baby Coming
(L-R) Jayne Kotz, Yaz Mubarkai, MLA, Member for Jandakot, Professor Rhonda Marriott and Professor Eeva Leinonen, Murdoch University Vice Chancellor

A mental health screening tool developed for pregnant Aboriginal women is being supported by the WA Government through a $230,000 Lotterywest grant.

The funding will assist in promoting the wellbeing program for expectant parents, particularly through a community Elders network known as ‘Gangster Grannies’, who will provide support for clients and their families.

Two consultants will also be employed to advise the ‘Baby Coming-You Ready?’ team, based at Murdoch’s Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity.

The interactive program uses illustrations on an iPad, phone or laptop to open up and guide dialogue between expectant parents and doctors and nurses about how they are coping in the lead-up to their child’s birth.

Young parents testing the program, ahead of a State-wide roll-out of the pilot in September, are reporting a sense of security and trust being fostered by the two-way assessment tool which screens for perinatal (antenatal) and postnatal depression.

‘Baby Coming – You Ready?’ is based on a research project conducted at Murdoch University by PhD student Jayne Kotz with Aboriginal mothers and fathers from around the State, called 'Kalyakool Moort – Always Family'.

The tool was designed as an alternative model to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and is part of an early intervention strategy for expectant parents.

Research shows that Aboriginal women experience significantly higher levels of anxiety and distress than non-Aboriginal women of the same age during pregnancy.

Ms Kotz said Aboriginal people were traditionally not well screened during the perinatal period, and there was no evidence the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), which was developed in Scotland 40 years ago, was effective or culturally safe for Aboriginal families.

Aboriginal mothers and fathers were often younger than their non-Aboriginal counterparts and faced sometimes complex emotional, financial and relationship issues on top of sleep disturbances, low mood and low energy.

"It’s important that young Aboriginal families get better access to support which makes them feel heard and which involves them in the dialogue,” Ms Kotz said. “The feedback we are receiving is that participants in the pilot project feel safer in opening up. They appreciate the plain language adopted and feel more in control and involved in the process.

“They have also indicated that they are more likely to attend their antenatal appointments if this new model is adopted.”

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