Midwife of the Year finalists
Waminda South Coast Women's Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation
Binjilaanii Maternity Services Pty Ltd., Nowra, NSW
Melanie Briggs is recognised for her tireless work to improve First Nations maternal and infant health.
A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbayngirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaani, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia. She is also a Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.
Renowned for her strong advocacy, Melanie implemented the Waminda Birthing on Country Model, incorporating culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to country for their baby and their families.
Melanie plans to use any prize money to conduct research that will further develop the Birthing on Country Model.
New Life Midwifery
Teresa Walsh is recognised for her contribution to maternity care and innovation through establishing and managing one of the first private midwifery practices in the country, New Life Midwifery. Teresa is an industry trailblazer, with three decades of midwifery practice experience.
New Life Midwifery offers women one to one continuity of midwifery care in collaboration with public hospital obstetric services based on a woman’s individual wishes and health needs. The practice has provided care to more than 600 women and babies from pregnancy to six weeks postnatal.
As well as practising, Teresa has taken on many representative advocacy roles to enhance the midwifery sector and maternity services in Australia. Teresa believes if you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together, as reflected in her career and successes.
Bendigo Health for the Loddon Mallee Region
Sarah Watts is recognised for her exceptional leadership and work in regional and rural communities, specifically the Loddon Mallee region.
With over 20 years’ experience as a midwife, Sarah has built a legacy of compassion and care. Using her knowledge of Midwifery Group Practice (MGP), Sarah has been critical to improving the safety and sustainability of maternity services for regional and rural communities. Part of this work saw her establish a Special Care Nursery, helping ensure babies are not separated from their parents at birth.
A trusted leader, educator and mentor, Sarah has been integral to supporting midwives to develop confidence and upskill. In particular she has helped them gain more experience in caring for pregnant women with higher risks.
Nurse of the Year finalists
Ovarian Cancer Australia
Sue Hegarty is recognised for her exceptional advocacy and support for women with ovarian cancer.
With a 26-year career dedicated to cancer nursing, Sue has worked tirelessly to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. She has been instrumental in the development of programs offered through Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA), attracting millions of dollars in funding. This includes spearheading the development of Australia’s first ovarian cancer telehealth program, which provides access to specialist nurses for women with the disease.
Sue has collaborated with the University of Sydney to identify research priorities for ovarian cancer and established a psycho-oncology research program at OCA. She was also responsible for convening the first symposium on ovarian cancer at the International Psycho-oncology World Conference in 2018.
Karen Bellamy is recognised for her leadership and contribution to the COVID-19 response and national vaccine rollout.
With over 25 years’ experience in immunisation, Karen is currently the Monash Health Coordinator for the COVID-19 Victorian Specialist Immunisation Services, known as VicSIS. This network provides specialist services for people identified as ‘at-risk’ following immunisation.
Karen’s work on the frontlines has had an immeasurable impact on the healthcare system. Through her work with VicSIS, Karen developed a protocol for and helped educate immunisers and clinicians in differentiating anaphylaxis from alternate vaccine responses. She helped build community trust during the vaccine rollout’s critical early stages, including with First Nations people, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and young people.
West End, QLD
Talay Quinlan is recognised for her outstanding work to support women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.
Talay is an embedded Clinical Domestic Violence Nurse. In 2021 she established the ‘Clinical Nurse Partnerships – Domestic Violence’ project, providing women access to direct nursing care, immediate health assessment, education, and help navigating the health system.
A pillar in the community, Talay advocates passionately for her patients. She goes above and beyond to provide vital health care and improve health literacy, ensuring all women receive the best healthcare regardless of financial or social status.
As the founder and driving force behind the program, Talay wants to provide more for the women who have experienced domestic violence.
Outstanding Organisation finalists
Beaudesert Hospital Maternity is recognised for its commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of women and babies in rural Queensland by providing high quality maternity services to the local community.
The service has enhanced healthcare for local women and babies, including expanding its Midwifery Group Practice which provides individualised continuity of care during pregnancy, labour and birth, and in the provision of postnatal care.
Beaudesert Hospital Maternity has also increased access to culturally appropriate midwifery and healthcare to First Nations mothers. The service has engaged extensively with community members to ensure safe, sustainable, and integrated care. Beaudesert Hospital Maternity is working to further enhance cultural appropriate care in the future through a Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) model of care.
Liverpool Hospital is recognised for the incredible effort of their nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic when they were at the epicentre of two ‘waves’ of outbreaks, including the Delta strain.
The Liverpool Hospital nurses provided frontline care through screening stations, contact tracing and coordinating the COVID-19 response through the Emergency Operating Centre. Nursing teams responded quickly to changed models of care and willingly embraced the many new ways of
working. This occurred across the entire organisation, and the nurses were willing to do whatever it would take to ensure patients were cared for with compassion and kindness.
Many nurses were called back from leave or redeployed to help in the fight against COVID-19 and it is thanks to their tireless work that hundreds of lives were saved. Many more people were supported by these nurses in their recovery from the virus.