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Success in Closing the Gap: favourable neonatal outcomes in a metropolitan Aboriginal Maternity Group Practice Program

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Australian Aboriginal women are at greater risk of complications during pregnancy and labour than non-Indigenous Australian women. There are for many reasons for this, including a higher prevalence of medical, lifestyle and socioeconomic risk factors, and lower antenatal care participation rates. Providing culturally competent services improves antenatal care uptake, but historically there has been a lack of such services in Western Australia.1 Element Two of the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development (IECD2), part of the Closing the Gap suite of health care reforms initiated in late 2008, aimed to improve the access of Aboriginal women (particularly teenagers) to antenatal care and other women’s health care services.2

The Aboriginal Maternity Group Practice Program (AMGPP) was funded under this element, and commenced operating at various locations in the area of Perth served by the South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) in early to mid 2011. The SMHS spans the entire metropolitan area south of the Swan River (estimated population in 2012: 893 379, of whom 1.8% are Aboriginal residents)3; the remainder of metropolitan Perth is served by the North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS). There are five health districts in the SMHS, each with its own hospital (four hospitals are public and one is private). The district…