The Mary Kirk Fellowship

The Mary Kirk Fellowship is awarded biennially by the Canberra Mothercraft Society to commission an academic paper and public lecture that will inform public debate and understanding of matters affecting women’s and children’s health and the wellbeing of families.

Mary Kirk AM

Mary Kirk AM was the executive officer of the Canberra Mothercraft Society and director of Nursing and Midwifery at the Queen Elizabeth II Family Centre from 1996 to 2019. Her distinguished career in midwifery included serving as vice-president of the International Confederation of Midwives. The fellowship in her name recognizes her contribution to the field locally, nationally and internationally.

At QEII, Ms Kirk led the development of an innovative and inclusive model of care for working with families, especially those needing longer-term assistance and support from QEII. Her leadership of QEII staff saw repeated excellent results in external accreditation. Her commitment to the highest standards of support and training for staff gave rise to the CMS scholarship fund, which was partly funded through the fees received from her participation in national and international bodies regulating and supporting the midwifery profession.

The inaugural award

The inaugural Mary Kirk Fellowship was awarded in 2021 to Professor Hannah Dahlen AM, Professor of Midwifery, Discipline Leader of Midwifery and Associate Dean (Research and Higher Degree Research) at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, to produce a lecture and paper on the 2019 COAG plan: Woman-Centred Care: Strategic Directions for Australian Maternity Services.

The lecture, titled The good, the bad and the possible, led by Professor Dahlen with an expert panel, was broadcast via live webinar on Wednesday, 24 March 2021, to almost 700 viewers.

The lecture and discussion presented a critique of the plan, considering the international evidence, policy documents and interviews with stakeholders, and offered a way forward.

Mary Kirk participated in the expert panel discussion that followed the lecture and was consulted on the accompanying paper.

The paper, titled ‘A comparison of the Woman-centred care: strategic directions for Australian maternity services (2019) national strategy with other international maternity plans,” was published in Women and Birth, the official journal of the Australian College of Midwives, on 13 April 2022, following peer review.

You can read a copy of the paper online here. Alternatively, you can download a copy below:

You can view a recording of the lecture and panel discussion here:

This project was funded by the Canberra Mothercraft Society under the Mary Kirk Fellowship.