Safety and quality in maternity care – developing a National Strategic Approach to Maternity Services

In Australia, the planning and delivery of maternity services is a State and Territory responsibility, with the Commonwealth playing an important role in providing national direction and coordinating efforts to improve care and outcomes.

Significant progress in improving Australian maternity care services was made under the National Maternity Services Plan 2010–2015 which concluded on 30 June 2016. Successes included Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Committee (AHMAC) endorsement of national core maternity indicators and evidence-based antenatal care guidelines, expanding the range of maternity models of care, establishing the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline, identifying characteristics of culturally competent maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and developing a framework for birthing on country programs.

In 2017 AHMAC tasked the Australian Government to work with the jurisdictions on development of a National Strategic Approach to Maternity Services (NSAMS). Extensive consultations have been conducted and the resulting draft NSAMS is now the subject of further consultation. The NSAMS is intended to provide an overarching national approach to maintaining Australia’s high-quality maternity care and working towards further improvements.