The Shoalhaven has welcomed the first Aboriginal woman in NSW to be a fully endorsed midwife.
Melanie Briggs, descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr people and, mother of two, recently completed her Masters of Primary Maternity Care at Griffith University.
She is the first Aboriginal woman in NSW and one of only two Aboriginal women nationally to have achieved this.
Ms Briggs said the birth of her godson was the inspiration for her career.
"His birth changed my life" she said.
Since 2009, after the completion of her Bachelor of Midwifery, Ms Briggs worked as a midwife in community and hospital settings.
In 2016, she landed on Yuin country to work as a midwife for Waminda, the South Coast Women's Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.
She is leading the development of the Minga Goodjaga Midwifery Group Practice, an Aboriginal led and holistic approach to supporting positive maternal and child health outcomes for Aboriginal families in the region.
Evidence from a similar service in Brisbane, Birthing in Our Community Service, has shown a 50 per cent reduction in preterm births for Aboriginal women.
This is a significant contribution to closing the gap in infant and child mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Ms Briggs also leads Birthing on Country, a project to establish a purpose built freestanding birth centre providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with a culturally safe place to birth on the South Coast.
"I'm not just a midwife but an advocate and voice for Aboriginal women who feel voiceless in a loud and noisy oppressive western system," she said.
This week a Gofundme campaign has been launched to raise funding to support the Birthing on Country project (Go Fund Me).