Chair Address - from kate waterford
To all our valued members and supporters,
It is a pleasure and honour to present to you my first chair’s report for the Australasian Birth Trauma Association. I hope that it is the first of many.
2020 has disrupted and challenged the world, and all of the communities, families and people living in it. We at the ABTA have been hearing from many people, particularly those who have been pregnant or caring for young children in 2020, that the COVID19 pandemic has introduced considerable new stresses into their lives. Health systems and practitioners have been under pressure; Telehealth appointments have replaced many face-to-face consultations; and some of society’s usual support systems for new mothers and babies have fallen away. The ABTA’s work and support is more needed than ever.
And yet, for the ABTA, 2020 has been a year of growth, ideas, collaboration and impact. Despite not being able to meet up in person to run some of the events and courses we had looked forward to, we have built deeper and broader community connections. Our social media groups have grown, and we have continued delivering peer support services, listening to the women and families for whose benefit we work. We have collaborated with new partners and continued to strengthen relationships with existing ones. We have substantially increased our income through a major conference and donations, which will open up still more possibilities for the future.
The ABTA has also been getting out its message everywhere. Amy Dawes and other ABTA representatives have appeared in podcasts, webinars, newspapers, conferences and online media throughout the year, and published articles bringing attention to the issue of birth-related trauma. Birth trauma is being talked about more and more in national and regional media.
We are proud to have launched our first education module under the THINKNATAL brand, designed to equip birthing families for conversations with their care providers about perineal tears. The Presidents of RANZCOG and the Australian College of Midwives spoke at our launch, and we are working on opportunities for future collaboration with them. We expect to launch further education modules in early 2021.
The ABTA has upgraded its website, and continued to develop resources for women, families and health professionals. We are now officially recognised by the Commonwealth as a trusted source of quality health information and advice, with “HealthDirect” accreditation.
Internally, we have continued building a dynamic, skilled board. Our directors are highly passionate and committed, with a range of professional backgrounds and interests. We have been working to strengthen the ABTA’s governance and risk management backbone, to ensure sustainable long-term impact. We can boast of recruiting a host of talented volunteers on our two new committees: the Fundraising & Grants Committee, which brings in funds to pay for the ABTA’s important work; and the Clinical Governance Committee, which brings together health practitioners and health law experts, ensuring that the ABTA’s work is research-driven. In the next financial year, we expect to launch a third committee, a community ThinkTank which will focus on better supporting consumers.
2020 has taught us all that our relationships with our friends, families and communities are to be treasured, and that it is always worthwhile doing our bit to share hope and love with those around us, especially in times of darkness. At its core, the work of ABTA is about lifting people up from suffering and solitude. It is about starting conversations: between health professionals and their patients; within families; and with strangers who understand what it feels like to walk down a path we are walking on. Those human connections will never diminish in importance, even if we need to find new ways to make them happen (with a lot of videoconference fatigue along the way).
I congratulate our core staff team for these achievements, and also take this opportunity to thank our many supporters and volunteers for their generosity in 2020. We are humbled by the willingness of so many people to share their time and other resources to help us do all that we do. The ABTA has big dreams and many ideas for achieving its vision, and we will continue to be grateful for your support on that journey.
I also take this opportunity to thank my dear board colleague and friend, Professor Bryanne Barnett AM, for her many contributions as director of the ABTA since its establishment. She will be sorely missed. Bryanne is deeply wise and fiercely intelligent; both strong and incredibly gentle; and always utterly committed to the wellbeing of mothers, partners and families. The ABTA would not be the agent of change and hope it is today without her years of service. We all bid our farewells to Bryanne with gratitude and best wishes.