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The Mubali project is run by the organisation Beyond Empathy and began in May 2004. It uses an arts intervention process to improve the health of pregnant Indigenous women, young mothers aged 15 to 25 years, and their babies in the Moree district. The project stemmed from concerns among local health services that this group of women were not getting access to pre-natal advice and often only sought medical assistance as their babies were being born.
As part of the project, a series of visual art workshops were held in a special room at Moree Base Hospital, the young women made and then painted plaster casts of their pregnant bellies, mentored by the artists (aunties) in the community. During these sessions, the midwives and health professionals were able to give valuable messages about maternal and baby care, nutrition, mental health, dental health, parentlng and breastfeeding. The aunties, who are elders in the community, were part of the process.
The artworks and painted casts formed part of a popular exhibition at the Moree Plains Regional Gallery. Of the first group of ten participants, nine were still breastfeeding twelve months later and the average birth weight of their babies was significantly higher than those of babies born to women who had not been part of Mubali. Significantly, the young participants were also better educated about pre and post-natal care and were able to share important health messages with other pregnant women in their community.
The Mubali approach has provided an effective means for the Moree midwives to connect with the young Indigenous women of their region, a group that previously rarely sought professional help for their pregnancies. The project now has a life of its own, with the midwives using the Mubali model as part of their overall program of health care for new mothers in Moree.
Abstract adapted from Beyond Empathy
PO Box 844
Armidale NSW 2350
Ph: (02) 6772 0101
Fax: (02) 8207 8973