4 January 2016: Nine midwives from the South Pacific countries of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga attended a leadership course at the University of Canberra.
The project titled 'Leadership Development for Midwives of South Pacific Countries' aimed to develop and improve the leadership skills of the participants.
The course was specially designed by the University and the Australian College of Midwives and was sponsored by a Rotary International Global Grant through Rotary Districts 9710 (Canberra) and District 9920 (Auckland).
During their two-week visit, the midwives were exposed to different approaches to leadership through workshops and lectures, in order to grow and gain confidence.
"Each midwife was encouraged to individually and collectively assess their abilities by focusing on relevant theories, models and skills for leadership in midwifery work with women," associate professor of midwifery Jenny Browne said.
"The content and processes of this short course were designed to facilitate a personal and professional consideration and growth of midwifery responsibilities and realities and potential growth for the participants and their colleagues through skill and knowledge transfer on return to their country," she said.
Tongan Mafi Eaelei said she appreciated being able to take part in the course and learn new skills.
"I'm very grateful because I have been provided a big foundation in midwifery to take back to Tonga. I've learnt a lot of things from meeting others and seeing how differently things are done here," she said.
The midwives also learnt new ways to improve health outcomes for pregnant women in their home countries by discussing areas of concern and sharing methods from their own countries.
"We came to exchange ideas, so now we can go back home and discuss better maternity service strategies with our colleagues," said Salome Veilwa from Fiji.
Akenese Siaki from Samoa said that what she enjoyed the most about the course was the opportunity to learn from fellow midwives.
"We have learnt a lot from each other, so when we go back we'll keep on networking and keep in touch with each other and share the knowledge we have with the midwifery fellowship," she said.
This is the first time the vocational training program has run to assist the Pacific region and Rotary International plans to provide further programs over the next two years in leadership development for midwives from other South Pacific countries.