Community consultation key to shaping new maternity services

In late July 2020 Castlemaine Health sought nominations to join the Maternity Services Consumer Committee and help shape the future of maternity services in the region.

The appointment of eight community representatives, whose professional and personal experience will play an integral role in the development of the new model of care, is an essential step in the process towards reopening the service.

Committee members come from all walks of life, with deep connections to Castlemaine Health and the community. A full list of members is available on the Maternity Services page at and more details about each person and their role will be shared over the coming weeks.

Maternity Services Consumer Committee Chair, Anna Howard, is an experienced lawyer who has worked locally and in Melbourne.

Anna was Principal Lawyer of the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre (2010 – 2014) and lawyer with Arnold Dallas McPherson in Bendigo. While in these roles, she worked closely with local health services including Bendigo Health, Bendigo Community Health Services, Cobaw Community Health and Primary Health Networks.

Anna has lived in Castlemaine since 2010 and, since moving here, had two children. While her children were not born at Castlemaine Health, Anna and her family received postnatal care there and remained closely connected to the service.

Anna is a passionate advocate for the rights of regional women, including their right to birthing options and access to woman-centred, compassionate care.

“I am interested in being a voice and a vehicle through which women and their support people can express what they want from a birthing service,” says Anna.

“Having experienced two very different births in large regional public hospitals I believe it’s the approach of the staff and the culture of the service that has the largest impact on a woman’s experience of giving birth. Feeling respected and listened to is so crucial to having a positive birthing experience.”

“I am deeply committed to retaining the culture that has existed at Castlemaine Health while developing the service through stronger partnerships and a new model of care.”

As Restorative Justice Manager/Convener for RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice, Anna is currently working to build a justice system that responds to the needs of the people who come before it and who use it. She brings this same human-centred process to her role at Castlemaine Health.

“It’s so important that services are designed with users in mind,” she says.

“A human-centred process is, in my mind, the only way to design a service that really works and that responds to people’s needs.”

Castlemaine Health Chief Executive Office Ian Fisher and Castlemaine Health Maternity Services Project Consultant, Fiona Faulks have welcomed the appointment of the Maternity Services Consumer Committee.

Representatives from the Maternity Services Consumer Committee have also been appointed to the Maternity Services Operational Model of Care Working Group and Maternity Services Governance Group.

“The Maternity Services Consumer Committee members represent the views and interests of the community,” says Fiona.

“Their appointment should offer further reassurance that there is a process in place for the community to be heard.”

Fiona says work on the new service is progressing well and more information will be available in due course.

“We’re working together to develop a service that is woman-centred, culturally safe and collaborative,” she says. “Where the skills and strengths of every member of the team are utilised.”

“We want to our model to be sustainable. So the service is capable of meeting the needs of the community well into the future.”

Members of the community can reach the Maternity Services Consumer Committee and share their views by completing the feedback form on our website.


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