Away From Base graduate wins NT Young Achiever Award

Published: Wednesday 15th April 2015

ACU staff members Machellee Kosiak and Glenys McCarrick with NT Young Achiever Award winner Cherisse Buzzacott (middle).
Above: ACU staff members Machellee Kosiak (left) and Glenys McCarrick (right) with NT Young Achiever Award winner Cherisse Buzzacott.

One of the first graduates of ACU's Away From Base Midwifery program, Cherisse Buzzacott, has been awarded a prestigious NT Young Achiever Award.

ACU's Away From Base Midwifery Lecturer Machellee Kosiak and colleague Glenys McCarrick joined Cherisse at the awards ceremony in Darwin last weekend, where she was awarded the PTTEP Australasia Health and Wellbeing Award for her achievements in midwifery.

"In her acceptance speech, Cherisse spoke about her time at ACU and how the Away From Base program is helping to close the life expectancy gap for Indigenous mothers and babies," Machellee said.

"She is an amazing ambassador. In 2012, Cherisse and Glenys also participated as representatives at the Franciscan International Asia Pacific Regional Workshop on Indigenous People's Human Rights and Advocacy."

Machellee said Cherisse had previously won a scholarship to assist with study expenses, and she was proud to see how Cherisse had been empowered to complete her Bachelor of Midwifery course at ACU in 2014.

Cherisse received the inaugural Felicity Bundock Memorial Award, a scholarship set up in the memory of an Indigenous midwife who was tragically killed by her partner through domestic violence in 2012.

"The Felicity Bundock scholarship is about empowering Indigenous women in general to access greater opportunities," Machellee said.

Upon finishing her studies, Cherisse obtained a graduate programme at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, and in May she will return to her community in Alice Springs to work as a midwife.

"I was really proud to see her win this award and see how her work is making a difference to a lot of other people's lives too," Machellee said.

Supporting future midwives

Machellee believes providing more scholarship opportunities will be a key factor in increasing the number of Indigenous health professionals into the future.

"We also need to have Indigenous midwives looking after Indigenous women to have better health outcomes for mothers and babies," Machellee said.

"Across the whole of Queensland, there are 10 Indigenous midwives. In Australia, there's less than 100. A lot of Indigenous students don't really have much financial support to pursue their studies. So more scholarships would be really good."

"If more Indigenous women can have access to an Indigenous midwife, it will mean things like they are not stereotyped. They'll attend antenatal clinics because it's culturally safe - the midwives are trusted, and they don't have that fear of disclosing information."

If you would like to support the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Trust, please visit the website for more information or to make a donation.

Learn more about Away From Base

All ACU staff are invited to participate in an upcoming Indigenous Perspectives video conference where Machellee will present on the Away From Base program at ACU. The video conference will be held on Thursday 14 May from 12pm to 1pm (AEST).  Register now to attend.