Julie Kamblijambi Kep came from Papua New Guinea to RMIT to research how childbirth could be made safer in remote, rural communities.
What has been the focus of your PhD research?
About 87.5 per cent of the PNG population live in remote, rural communities.
Pregnant women there face big problems, and too often have unsafe deliveries – accounting for 47 per cent of all unsupervised births.
In 2005, the University of Goroka set out to improve this situation by launching a Bachelor of Maternal and Child Health program that included training for Village Birth Attendants (VBA).
My research aimed to evaluate this training and help inform a new, culturally relevant degree curriculum with a core component on VBA knowledge and village-based public health clinical practice.
How was the PhD journey?
Starting was interesting and challenging – interesting in the sense that it was going to be a new area of studies, networking and sightseeing.
I know there would be many challenges to balance them all and overcome before I reached the destination.
The journey took me into applying the research method into practice. I conducted face-to-face interviews in Pidgin English, which was the honeymoon period of data collection and transcribing.
But a struggle was the translation of results from the data that needed to be supported by other literature. It wasn’t easy when English was my third language, and I found myself having to do the in-text references and reference list manually.
And what did you find?
My research indicated that midwives and child health nurses need to experience the village lifestyle if they are to make a difference in providing prompt care and support for mothers and babies in remote PNG.
I’m providing empirical data for the PNG Department of Health to inform policy direction and the development of a new and more effective curriculum for maternal and child health.
And I’ve now been told that my thesis has passed subject to minor amendment, so I’ll soon be graduating as Dr Julie!
What kind of other opportunities were open to you?
The PhD journey was not only about books, computer and thesis writing but also enabled me to attend conferences and present my thesis in both international and local midwifery conferences.
I was also able to get involved in volunteer groups. Some of my highlights included:
- Being part of the PNG Wantok (friends) group of Victoria – organising gatherings and fundraising for HIV/AIDS care centres in PNG
- Volunteering at the HIV/AIDS international conference in Melbourne in 2014
- Presenting to Soroptimists International on midwifery nursing in PNG
- Presenting to Rotary South Melbourne on behalf of the Karanz community in the Southern Highlands of PNG and seeking support for materials for the schools there
I also visited every state in Australia.
I’d like to thank my supervisor, Professor Eleanor Holroyd, and the nursing and midwifery community at Bundoora campus. You made it all worthwhile!
Story: David Glanz