National Maternity Services Plan

The Plan

The Plan will provide a strategic national framework to guide policy and program development over five years. It aims to improve, coordinate and ensure greater access to maternity services in Australia.

Page last updated: 2011

Priorities for the Plan
Actions in the Plan

For the purpose of this Plan, maternity care refers to antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care for women and babies up to six weeks after birth. Strong relationships and linkages between maternity, neonatal and other specialist services are vital to quality maternity care. This Plan acknowledges these links, but does not address specialist services in detail.

The Plan will:

  • provide all Australians with clear statements of commitments by Australian governments
  • set high-level directions and priorities
  • guide policy and program development to improve, coordinate and ensure greater access to maternity care for Australian women and their families
Under the Plan, the majority of care for a healthy pregnant woman will be provided and coordinated by an individual or team of maternity carers, including midwives, GPs, obstetricians, anaesthetists, GP obstetricians and GP anaesthetists. Other health care providers may also be required to ensure women and babies receive care appropriate to their needs. These include, but are not limited to, allied health professionals, gynaecologists, neonatologists, and child and family health nurses.

Priorities for the Plan

Priorities for maternity care, identified through review and consultation, reflect the high demand for maternity services that are responsive to the needs of all Australian women, their partners and families. Priorities for the Plan encompass four areas: access, service delivery, workforce and infrastructure.

Priority 1 Access

1.1 Increase access for Australian women and their family members to information that supports their needs for maternity care.
1.2 Increase access for Australian women and their family members to local maternity care by expanding the range of models of care.
1.3 Increase access for women and their family members in rural Australia to high-quality maternity care.
1.4 Increase access for women and their family members in remote Australia to high-quality maternity care.

Priority 2 Service delivery

2.1 Ensure Australian maternity services provide high-quality, evidence-based maternity care.
2.2 Develop and expand culturally competent maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
2.3 Develop and expand appropriate maternity care for women who may be vulnerable due to medical, socioeconomic and other risk factors.

Priority 3 Workforce

3.1 Plan and resource to provide an appropriately trained and qualified maternity workforce that provides clinically safe woman-centred maternity care within a wellness paradigm.
3.2 Develop and support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander maternity workforce.
3.3 Develop and support a rural and remote maternity workforce.
3.4 Facilitate a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration in maternity care.

Priority 4 Infrastructure

4.1 Ensure all maternity care is provided within a safety and quality system.
4.2 Ensure maternity service planning, design and implementation is woman-centred.

Actions in the Plan

The actions identified in the Plan will be coordinated to build upon planning and service developments already underway. Cultural change across maternity services will be ongoing throughout the life of the Plan and beyond. All governments are committed to long-term improvements in maternity services and will use this Plan as a strategic framework to guide investments and service developments.

Actions are identified as being in:
  • the initial year of the Plan: Year 1
  • the middle years of the Plan: Years 2 and 3
  • the later years of the Plan: Years 4 and 5, and beyond
Signs of success are identified against actions to demonstrate the achievements under this Plan. Top of page