National Maternity Services Plan


All Australian governments are committed to maternity care reform, and acknowledge the need to maintain this momentum through ongoing implementation and resourcing of the Plan.

Page last updated: 2011

Governance structure
Overview of key responsibilities and commitments under the Plan
Implementation strategy
Monitoring, evaluation and reporting

The Plan’s successful implementation will require a united approach between all Australian governments together with all maternity health service professionals from both the public and private sector and Australian women and their families who use maternity services.

The Plan’s implementation will be progressed by governments both independently and nationally under AHMAC. All jurisdictions will report to AHMC via AHMAC and HPPPC.
Implementation will need to be responsive to the areas of health reform under way nationally.

Governance structure

Implementation, reporting and evaluation of the Plan are the responsibilities of AHMAC. AHMAC will provide regular reports on the Plan’s progress and implementation to Australian Health Ministers who will, in turn, report on matters to COAG, where they intersect with broader COAG initiatives.

The Plan’s implementation will be progressed through AHMAC’s HPPPC and Maternity Services Inter-Jurisdictional Committee. These committees will facilitate collaboration and sharing of information and expertise, and promote national consistency across key issues. Some elements of the Plan will be the responsibility of other AHMAC Principal Committees, as described in the implementation plan.

These governance arrangements are presented in Table 6.
Commonwealth agencies
Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Australian Health Ministers’ Conference (AHMC)Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) Health Policy Priorities Principal Committee (HPPPC) Maternity Services Inter-Jurisdictional Committee (MSIJC)
Other AHMAC Committees and sub committees Other AHMAC Committees and sub committees
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Overview of key responsibilities and commitments under the Plan


All Australian governments are working collaboratively to further develop an evidence base to inform decision making and quality improvement for maternity services through national frameworks and guidelines. These include a national approach to:
  • consistency in data collections
  • analysis and reporting on priority issues
  • targeted research projects on priority issues
  • national consistency in education programs leading to registration of the maternity workforce through accreditation by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
All governments, through AHMAC, are responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation and achievement of actions in the Plan. AHMAC will also engage with key agencies and expert advisory groups, as required, to implement actions in the Plan.

Australian Government

The Australian Government will oversee reforms to the maternity workforce, including access to the MBS and PBS for eligible midwives, support for professional indemnity insurance for eligible midwives and the provision of scholarships for maternity professionals.

The Australian Government, through the MBS and PBS, has responsibility for partly funding elements of private maternity services and private maternity professionals, including medical practitioners and eligible midwives for MBS services and as PBS prescribers.

States and territories

States and territories will facilitate national workforce reforms by amending legislation to allow for their implementation. They will also develop an implementation process to align appropriate nurses/midwives legislation to include prescribing by nurses and midwives within their scope of practice.

States and territories are also responsible for the provision of services in public hospitals and other public maternity services, including providing the infrastructure to network services and for the collection of data for a national dataset.

States and territories will engage with local stakeholders and advisory groups as required to implement the Plan.

Private sector

The private sector, both individuals and institutions, is responsible for implementing and maintaining national standards of evidence-based care within the sector, including facilitating new roles for eligible midwives. The NPA will oversee the private sector’s performance reporting and accountability.

Implementation strategy

The Plan will be implemented sequentially. This will allow future planning and resourcing decisions to be informed by the outcomes achieved in earlier years, and also acknowledges the ongoing nature of the broader health reform process.

When developing implementation strategies under this Plan, consideration will be given to the impact on neonatal and other specialist services, reflecting the interrelationship between maternity, and neonatal and other specialist services.Top of page

Phase 1: An implementation strategy for the initial year

An implementation plan has been prepared for the initial year, and includes investments and commitments from all jurisdictions to improve maternity services. Over the first year of the Plan, Australian governments will work together to provide a detailed implementation strategy for the subsequent years. The implementation strategy will include the specification of resourcing for each phase of the Plan.

The Phase 1 implementation plan is provided below (page 61).

Phase 2: An implementation strategy for the middle and later years

The implementation of middle and later year actions (years 2–5) will depend in part on the outcomes of the first year of the Plan. Phase 2 can then reflect changes to the maternity care environment that result from the broader health reforms occurring nationally.

Implementation will also include the reassessment and incorporation of any necessary amendments or additions to the Plan once Actions, including 4.2.1 and 4.2.2, are further progressed.

The implementation strategy for Phase 2 will be finalised by the end of Year 1 of the Plan.

Phase 3: Review of the implementation strategy for the later years

The implementation strategy for the middle and later years of the Plan will be reviewed in Year 5, to ensure actions and responsible parties remain appropriate as national health reform agendas are advanced.

Monitoring, evaluation and reporting

Monitoring of the implementation of the Plan and evaluation of the outcomes achieved will be important elements of the Plan.

An annual report of the Plan will be provided by AHMAC to the Health Ministers. This report will comprise reports from all jurisdictions and AHMAC Principal Committees on progress against the actions of the Plan.

Evaluation of the Plan will take place during Year 5 to review achievements and outcomes against the Plan, make recommendations for future actions for maternity services in Australia and inform development of the next Plan. Evaluation of achievements will be aligned with the key priority areas for the Plan.

The annual reporting and national evaluation will primarily use existing materials rather than create new data collections that would impose an additional data-reporting burden on jurisdictions. New reporting activities under the National Health and Hospitals Network will also be considered as appropriate. Existing materials that will inform reporting and evaluation include:
  • existing sources of information available through monitoring activities identified in the Plan
  • jurisdictional evaluations of particular relevant initiatives to specified questions of national significance
  • national reports on maternity care outcomes
  • significant reports available on other relevant issues that have implications for maternity care
The evaluation in Year 5 may require specific data collections and evaluation where there are gaps in existing data sources. The Australian Government has commissioned an evaluation framework for Australian Government maternity reform activities identified in the Plan.

AHMAC will consider options for the further evaluation and monitoring of the Plan’s implementation and achievements, such as specific descriptive and interpretive data collection and/or special purpose evaluation and collection activities. These activities must also acknowledge the sequential development of an implementation strategy.Top of page