There’s been good news for women in western Cape York, who will shortly be receiving a brand new birthing unit in Weipa. Weipa is the largest town on the Cape York peninsula, with a population of nearly 4,000 people, making the region’s most popular town the perfect place to serve women in the community during their birthing journey.
The average age of women giving birth in Australia is between 30 and 34 for over a third of births, with Indigenous mothers often coming younger anywhere between 20 and 29. The average age for the town of Weipa is 31, another contributing factor to its likely success in the region. Hopes are for the unit to facilitate the birth of roughly 70 babies a year and give families from the area the best in healthcare Australia can provide.
Construction has already begun on the new birthing unit which will cost $25 million Australian dollars. Not only will the unit bring the highest quality birthing standards to women in the surrounding communities, but will also create over a dozen health worker positions once finished and construction jobs in the meantime. The unit, which is expected to be finished by the end of 2021, will likely open with two doctors, five midwives and an average of two health workers amongst its staff. The hope is for these hires to also be from within the local community.
Women currently have to travel to Cairns to give birth which can be a distressing amount of travel for some women. Women in First Nations communities especially have expressed a desire to give birth closer to home, and the unit aims to serve the surrounding areas of Aurukun, Coen, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Mapoon and Pormpuraaw. Women with high risk pregnancies however will continue to be treated in Cairns.
Work is already underway for the birthing unit which plans to provide additional services in operational, administrative and allied health support.