Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (11:57): I rise today to speak in support of this motion in recognition of the invaluable work performed by midwives, particularly in our rural and regional areas and those who work in my electorate of Mount Gambier. The Mount Gambier hospital is home to three labour wards, with 20 beds and approximately 550 births per year. As one of only two level 4 maternity hospitals in regional South Australia, the Mount Gambier hospital can provide services to women and babies with more complex care needs. There are some 302 nursing staff employed at the Mount Gambier hospital. Of those, 28 are dual registration nurse midwives and direct entry midwives. Those midwives range in experience from the newly graduated to those who have had in excess of 45 years' experience.
Midwives in regional areas provide fantastic support to mothers and families, and their services extend well beyond those performed during their hospital stay. The pre and postnatal care provided by midwives is integral to ensuring that the babies born at the Mount Gambier hospital are given the best possible start to life. The provision of domiciliary care by midwives is vital to ensuring that babies continue to thrive once they leave the hospital. Domiciliary care services in Mount Gambier run six days a week from the ward and ensure continuity of care for mothers and babies throughout the Mount Gambier electorate.
On Friday 11 May, the Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards were held. I was delighted that a close personal friend of mine, Rachael Yates, a midwife from Mount Gambier, was nominated for the Excellence in Practice—Registered Midwife Award. Rachael is doing a fantastic job connecting midwives throughout the state through forums, promoting best practice in midwifery. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate not only Rachael but the previous Labor government on instigating this program, connecting midwives around South Australia from regional areas through this service.
I congratulate Rachael on her nomination and recognise the fantastic work she does in midwifery, both in the South-East and across the state. It is vitally important that we continue to recruit and retain midwives in our regional areas and then connect them so that best practice is being practised throughout the state of South Australia in remote and regional areas.
In Mount Gambier, we are very lucky to have the University of South Australia offering a Bachelor of Midwifery. It is fantastic that local people have the opportunity to undertake nursing and midwifery studies in our area. It is one of the keys to ensuring that young people stay in our regions and are offered training and employment opportunities in this fantastic field. However, there is always more to be done, and I look forward to the government following through with its pre-election commitment to ensuring that we recruit and retain more health professionals to address skill gaps in our country areas. With that, I commend the motion to the house.