Nicky Leap and Pat Brodie
On Wednesday 16 February, the UTS Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health hosted a special event dubbed the ‘Festschrift’ to honour two incredible midwives from UTS - Adjunct Professors Pat Brodie and Nicky Leap.
The official definition of the Festschrift was adopted to mark the day’s celebration including stories, photos and music that are related to or have influenced these two professionals and their admirable careers in the profession of midwifery.
Pat Brodie and Nicky Leap are two pioneering midwifery activists, reformists, researchers and practitioners who started their careers campaigning for a "continuity of woman centred care for all mothers" on opposite sides of the world.
Nicky, originally from the UK, achieved this through the first publicly funded maternity service model in Albany, one of the poorer areas in the south east of London. Similarly, Pat’s work in Australia has resulted in establishing and implementing the same publicly funded maternity model in low socio economic areas such as Macquarie Fields in NSW and this work has heavily influenced university education and the midwifery curriculum at UTS.
Both Pat and Nicky refer to the nature of their work as being part of "the cause" and despite many years of fighting for change and recognition, not all women have access to these midwifery group practice models. This reflects political issues that surround the invisibility of midwifery as an important profession within the wider community. With recent political talks and policy focusing on health and maternity services, the Australian Federal Government has started to realise the importance of midwifery with the introduction and inclusion of Medicare funding for midwives which started in 2010. This is something that Pat had been working towards since the mid eighties and finally it is now becoming a reality.
Professor Caroline Homer, Director of the Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health said, "Pat and Nicky exemplify what is it to be midwives, leaders and truly great women. The Festschrift celebration reminded us of their skills and ability to create the vision, maintain the focus, demonstrate leadership and be aware of the risks and benefits of any action while reminding us that it must always be centered around the women we care for!"
The Festschrift was a wonderful occasion to honour and celebrate the contributions made by both Pat and Nicky at UTS and in the wider national and international midwifery and maternity care community. Presenters and delegates from every state and territory in Australia as well as friends and colleagues from the United Kingdom also attended. The strong themes of the day include midwifery continuity of care, midwifery leadership, interdisciplinary collaboration, pain, policy, practice, homebirth, groups and so much more.
In their practice, research and writing, Pat and Nicky have always kept women at the centre of their work and through their leadership they continue to inspire and nurture new future generations of midwives.
Pat and Nicky will still be working on collaborative projects with UTS as Adjunct Professors and have extended their professional lives to partake in an autonomous midwifery working life by offering their assistance and expertise in international project aid work in Papua New Guinea and other parts of the South Pacific region.