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MIDW127 Foundations in Midwifery

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit provides the opportunity for students to explore global perspectives in midwifery today. The unit is required by students to build on their earlier learning about their role in primary health care, specifically in relation to maternal health and reproductive rights, and the promotion of safe motherhood in both Australian and international contexts.

Community engagement will also be a key feature of this unit as students work collaboratively with community groups and organisations to achieve mutually agreed goals that build capacity, especially with those who are marginalised and disadvantaged. Students have the opportunity to engage with local, regional or international communities to foster social inclusion, build capacity and enrich social cohesion to improve wellbeing. Through this community engagement, students will develop and reflect upon the values of partnership, equality, mutual respect and commitment in alignment with the mission of the university.

The aims of this unit are first, to build on earlier learning and extend students' understanding of midwifery's important role in primary health care and second, to facilitate a community engagement placement during which students will be provided the opportunity to contribute to the welfare of marginalised and disadvantaged persons.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Outline the common causes of maternal morbidity and mortality globally and the associated challenges in measuring maternal mortality (GA4) 

LO2 - Examine the impact of cultural beliefs and practices upon childbearing and midwifery practice (GA4, GA5) 

LO3 - Evaluate global trends and developments in the status of women in relation to maternal and reproductive health and midwifery practice (GA4, GA6) 

LO4 - Advocate for the rights of women, families and communities in relation to maternity care and promote midwifery as a public health strategy (GA1, GA2, GA7) 

LO5 - Reflect critically on professional and ethical behaviour that acknowledges the dignity, culture, values, beliefs and rights of people in a capacity building context and resulting transformation of self (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA7) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively 

NMBA (2018) Midwife Standards for Practice developed in this unit are: 

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1: Promotes health and wellbeing through evidence-based midwifery practice 

1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Standard 2: Engages in professional relationships and respectful partnerships  

2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.8

LO2, LO4, LO5

Standard 3: Demonstrates the capability and accountability for midwifery practice  

3.3, 3.4

LO3, LO5

Standard 4: Undertakes comprehensive assessments  

4.1, 4.3

LO3, LO4, LO5

Standard 5: Develops plans for midwifery practice  



Standard 6: Provides safety and quality in midwifery practice  



Standard 7: Evaluates outcomes to improve midwifery practice  

7.1, 7.2, 7.3

LO3, LO5


Topics will include: 

Legal and professional practice 

  • Global Standards from professional bodies (ICM, WHO, UNICEF, United Nations, World Bank, Caritas) 
  • Capacity building 
  • Legal issues 
  • Risk management 
  • Preparation of student 
  • Development of learning contract 

Midwifery knowledge and practice 

  • Global models of care   
  • Rural, regional, remote,  
  • Urban, tertiary 
  • Partnership with women  

Midwifery as primary health care 

  • Global maternity services 
  • Social 
  • Economic 
  • Cultural and political issues 
  • Working in partnership with other key providers in the maternity workforce 
  • Traditional Birth Attendants   
  • Aboriginal Health Workers   
  • Strong Women Workers   
  • Health inequalities for childbearing women in minority groups  
  • Epidemiological evidence of inequalities in health outcomes 
  • Refugee, migrant and asylum seekers 
  • Rural and remote communities  
  • Indigenous women 
  • Midwifery as a public health strategy 
  • Reproductive health 
  • Current outbreaks and emergencies 
  • Indigenous communities  
  • International communities  
  • Maternal mortality and morbidity globally 
  • Principles of community engagement 
  • Respect for human dignity 
  • Mutuality and reciprocity 
  • Partnerships for transformation 
  • Working with, not doing for 
  • Nurturing hope for a better tomorrow 
  • Focus of community engagement 
  • Local 
  • Regional 
  • International 
  • Processes for identifying needs and working with communities to plan and implement strategies  

Reflective and ethical practice 

  • Midwifery as a sustainable health care practice 
  • Ethics of international recruitment of midwives 
  • Capacity building 
  • Ethical issues 
  • Transformation of self 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered by flexible mode using the online learning management system. Students in this unit will also undertake community engagement. They will actively participate in the mission, aims and objectives of a selected public sector or non-profit organisation or community group (40 hours community engagement).

Consistent with adult learning principles, teaching and learning strategies will provide students with foundational knowledge and skills relevant to professional midwifery practice. These strategies will also support students in meeting the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit and the broader course learning outcomes. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively with peers.

Students exiting university need significant life-long learning skills to deliver sound, ongoing, evidence-based graduate practice as a member of the professional workforce. To embed life-long learning skills students must demonstrate increasing reflective capacity to identify what is being done well and what requires additional work in progressing toward required learning outcomes. Located in the third year of the programme, this theory/community engagement unit offers online components of learning. Students will extend their capability as a member of the community of learners, and increase their self-reliance, critical reflection and debate. Online materials provide students with the opportunity to undertake directed, self-motivated study and continue to transition to independent study and life-long learning.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures consistent with University assessment requirements will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes.

The community engagement assignment provides scaffolding for the student’s experience. First, students will develop a learning contract in which they articulate their goals for collaborative work within the community group/organisation. Second, students will maintain a reflective journal throughout the 40 hour placement in the chosen community group/organisation. Third, students will write a report on their collaboration with the chosen community group/organisation and the manner in which they contributed to it’s mission, aims and objectives. Online group and individual classroom activities will enable students to showcase sound written communiction skills and understanding of the key issues in primary health care and community engagement.

These assessments are required to build student knowledge and skills which, by the conclusion of this programme, will enable the student to graduate as a safe and effective midwife.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Community Engagement Assignment:

Learning contract (400 words)

Report (based on journal reflections) (1500 words)

Based on their journal reflection, this assessment enables students to articulate their knowledge and understanding of the community group/organisation in which they undertook community engagement.



LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6. GA7

Online classroom activities (Group and individual)

Online group and individual classroom activities will enable students to showcase sound written communication skills and understanding of the key issues in primary health care, global trends in maternal health and reproductive rights, and community engagement.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6

Representative texts and references

Alkema, L., Chou, D., Hogan, D., Zhang, S., Moller, A., Gemmill, A., Fat, D., Boerma, T., Temmerman, M., Mathers, C. & Say, L. (2016). Global, regional, and national levels and trends in maternal mortality between 1990 and 2015, with scenario-based projections to 2030: a systematic analysis by the UN maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency group. The Lancet 387:462-474.

Australian College of Midwives. (2019). Birthing on Country in Australia. Women and Birth Volume 32, (5) 381-476 October 2019.

Egan, L., Butcher, J., & Ralph, K. (2008). Hope as a basis for understanding the benefits and possibilities of community engagement. Strathfield, NSW: The Institute for Advancing Community Engagement, Australian Catholic University. 

International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). (2019). ICM Advocacy toolkit for midwives.

Khosla, R., Zampas, C., Vogel, J., Bohren, M., Roseman, M. & Erdman, J. (2016). International Human rights and the Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth. Health and Human Rights, Volume 18, (2) 131-143.

McMurray, A., & Clendon, J. (2019). Community Health and Wellness (6th ed). Elsevier. ACU Library.

Starrs, A., Ezeh, A., Barker, G., Basu, A., Bertrand, J., Blum, R., Coll-Seck, A., Grover, A., Laski, L., Roa, M., Sathar, Z., Say, L., Serour, G., Singh, S., Stenberg, K., Temmerman, M., Biddlecom, A., Popinchalk, A., Summers, C. & Ashford, L. (2018). Accelerate progress – sexual and reproductive health and rights for all: report of the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission. The Lancet: 391.

ten Hoope-Bender, P., de Bernis, L., Campbell, J., Downe, S., Fauveau, V., Fogstad, H., Homer, C., Kennedy, H., Matthews, Z., McFadden, A., Renfrew, M. & Van Lerberghe, W. (2014). Improvement of maternal and newborn health through midwifery. The Lancet 384: 1226-1235.

United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Department of Economic and Social affairs.

United Nations Fund for Population Activities. (2021). The State of the World’s Midwifery 2021.

World Health Organization. (2015). Strategies toward ending preventable maternal mortality.

World Health Organization. (2015). WHO recommendations on health promotion interventions for maternal and newborn health 2015.

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