Midwifery clinic launches petition to keep doors open
A Kensington family clinic which provides pregnancy and postnatal support has launched a petition to keep its doors open as the City of Melbourne looks to sell the building.
Midwives and Mothers Australia (MAMA) has operated out of 30-38 Gatehouse Drive since 2011 after it became the state’s first private midwifery clinic, with services including acupuncture, physiotherapy, chiropractic care, aromatherapy, baby massage, and breastfeeding support among others.
But the council, which owns the building, has announced its intention to sell the property, along with three others in the municipality, as they do not support “future needs, meet the standards for accessibility or align with the strategic objectives”.
The council sought community feedback on the proposal from July 4 to August 7 with a report to come back in September before a decision is made at a council meeting. Should the property be put on the market, the sale process would begin in October.
MAMA co-founder Kelly Langford said the council’s reasoning so far was that there was a maternal child health service nearby, but that “gave us a very clear idea that they don’t know what services we provide”.
“We are quite separate to the [government-run] maternal and child health services and while both have an overlap it is a completely separate scope of practice,” she said.
“I know that it’s nothing personal against us or our services in closing the building, but I do wish that was more forethought in the proposal around the services it provides the community.”
In a last-ditch attempt to keep their facility running, MAMA has launched a change.org petition which has garnered almost 2500 signatures so far.
Among their supportive clients is mother-to-be Freya Van Oosten of Essendon, who said having a comforting environment “where I can really get to know my care providers and have that consistency” was invaluable.
“It’s a wonderful model of care and I think it would be really sad to lose this intuition,” she said.
A session hosted by MAMA at its Kensington clinic.
“When the council and government are saying that they want to improve maternal health outcomes and outcomes for children, and yet they’re taking away these resources, it doesn’t make sense.”
Another expectant mother Beth Harvey, 34, who began using MAMA’s services in 2019 after her first baby was born, said their support had been “amazing”, particularly during a time when she suffered post-natal anxiety.
“After I had her, I went to some of their allied services like mums and bubs yoga and they had Friday breastfeeding drop-ins where women would gather and the midwifes would make us a tea, and we would just be able to talk which is perhaps critical for new Mums trying to figure it all out,” she said.
“There really is nothing else like it. It would be such a shame for so many women to miss out.”
Ms Langford said their clinic, which stayed open during COVID-19 lockdowns, had supported more than 2000 women in the past decade through its continuity of care model.
“All of the practitioners that come to work in the building all have a drive for one reason or another to provide families with really, really good care in whatever area they’re in,” she said.
Ms Langford said while they had a smaller clinic in Hampton, it “barely caters for the people that we’ve got southside”, and the affordability of moving the business elsewhere would be out of reach.
“We have always struggled to inflate our prices. We just don’t want the service to be unaffordable to people and that really affects how much we charge.”
To find out more and help save MAMA Kensington, click here.
Caption: MAMA co-founder Kelly Langford said their services were invaluable to the community and couldn’t afford to move elsewhere.
Photography by Murray Enders.