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Midwifery and the Law

  • : Brisbane City QLD 4000

Includes: Legal Status of Unborn Child, Auditing, Registration Standards; Prescribing; Refusal of Treatment, Professional Indemnity Insurance, Case Studies and much, much more...



Potential risks manifest in all areas of health care, including obstetrics and within midwifery practice. Do you have informed knowledge about modern legal and professional aspects of midwifery? Attend this seminar to gain a comprehensive update on these topics. Includes:

  • Laws relating to midwifery, including documentation and duty of care
  • Modern midwifery legal considerations - prescribing, Medicare and professional indemnity insurance
  • What is the legal status of an unborn child?
  • A woman’s right to refuse treatment
  • What are the rights of fathers and grandfathers?
  • How can social media be used safely?

Attend this seminar and gain an opportunity to discuss a range of contemporary legal, professional and regulatory issues of relevance to midwives. Don’t miss out!


Need for Program


Midwives are regulated health professionals who function in accordance with legislation and common law affecting midwifery practice. They are accountable and responsible for their own actions within their practice; therefore it is essential that midwives have access to ongoing, relevant education to remain up-to-date with legal and professional regulatory issues relevant to their context and conditions of practice.

Purpose of Program


The purpose of this seminar is to provide midwives with a forum to enhance their knowledge of modern law and relevant contemporary professional and regulatory issues as these affect their practice.

Your Learning Outcomes
  • Reflect on the laws relevant to the profession and practice of midwifery
  • Review current professional issues affecting midwives, including professional frameworks for competent practice
  • Explore concepts of negligence, liability and professional indemnity as they apply to midwives
  • Discuss the processes that occur when an untoward event takes place within a midwifery context
  • Schedule Day One

    8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


    Laws Impacting on Midwifery Practice

    According to the Code of Professional Conduct for Midwives in Australia, ‘Midwives practise and conduct themselves in accordance with laws relevant to the profession and practice of midwifery’. This session sets the scene for the day and overviews legal obligations under which midwives practise. Includes:

    • Keeping in touch with statutory and common law - a review
    • Laws that currently most impact on the practice of midwifery
    • The concept of 'duty of care' - do you really understand it?
    • What is the relevance of professional codes, standards and guidelines?


    Legal Areas of Concern

    What are the contemporary issues confronting midwives in regard to areas of legal concern? This short discussion will provide an opportunity to raise some questions for exploration.

    10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


    Justifying Your Clinical and Professional Decisions at Law

    The session will provide a closer examination of neglect and vicarious liability. It will use a sample of recent legal cases involving midwives to demonstrate how these legal concepts work. Includes:

    • The essential facts about neglect and vicarious liability
    • The vital role of accurate and correct documentation


    Modern Midwifery - Medicare, Prescribing, and Professional Indemnity

    As the delivery of midwifery services change, some interesting issue may arise. We will look at:

    • What are some of the legal considerations if providing Medicare funded care?
    • What are legal obligations associated with prescribing from a formulary for midwives?
    • How effective is Professional Indemnity Insurance for midwives? What are the pitfalls?

    12:30pm - Lunch Break and Networking


    The Legal Status of the Unborn Child

    There is much debate about the viability, health and ethical situation of unborn children. Midwives may become involved in such considerations and it is advisable to have thought through some of the dilemmas. Includes discussion on:

    • Definition of life and rights of the unborn child
    • Should a midwife intervene if a mother is drinking to excess during pregnancy?
    • Can a mother be sued for damage to her foetus caused by maternal neglect?


    The Woman's Right to Refuse Treatment

    Midwives and the women in their care have a two-way relationship. However, women have a right to refuse treatment. This session looks at the legal issues in upholding the rights of the women and the obligations of the midwife. Includes:

    • If a woman refuses treatment or wishes to cease the relationship, what should you do?
    • What are the rights of the woman?
    • What if the midwife wishes to cease the relationship?
    • Can a mother refuse life-saving treatment if such treatment could cause the death of her baby?
    • Under what circumstances is consent waived?
    • Which processes need to be followed if consent is assumed?

    2:45pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    The Rights of Fathers and Grandparents

    Often fathers and grandparents are 'caught in the crossfire' of personal family traumas. The legal rights of fathers and also grandparents in regard to choice and access-related issues will be discussed.

    • What are the rights of the biological father before and after childbirth?
    • Do grandparents have any rights under the law?


    Documentation, Midwifery and the Law

    The importance of quality documentation in midwifery from a legal perspective cannot be overstated. This final session will focus particularly on the need to write accurate and timely reports. Using examples from case law, the following will be discussed:

    • What constitutes accurate documentation?
    • How to approach writing incident reports
    • What are reportable deaths and why is the midwife's documentation regarding them so crucial?
    • What would be expected of you if you were called to appear in the Coroner's Court?
    • If this occurs, what legal advice should you seek?

    4:15pm - Close of Day One of Program

    Day Two

    9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


    Regulation for Midwives – An Update

    According to the Code of Conduct for Nurses in Australia, ‘ A midwife is a person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational programme, duly recognised in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practise midwifery.’
    This session will consider the definition from the National Law perspective as an overview to the regulation of midwives and protection of the public. It will also provide an opportunity to catch up on recent general developments of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).


    The Complete Package - Registration Standards and Auditing

    There are specific standards with which midwives and nurses must comply under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (the National Law ) in order to maintain registration. Recently, auditing has been introduced as a means to ensure compliance with the standards. This session will examine the process of auditing those standards and what non-compliance means.

    10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


    CPD and Beyond

    The Registration Standard for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) specifies certain requirements for CPD. But what is continuing professional development (CPD)? Why is it necessary to develop a learning plan? This session discusses the concept of CPD and its breadth; and some common questions, such as:

    • How do I self-assess competence and learning needs?
    • If I read a journal article about midwifery practice, can this count towards CPD hours?
    • If I manage a project in my workplace does this count as CPD?
    • Is it acceptable for me to undertake CPD requirements at one time each year?
    • What if I just meet the requirements through inservice?


    Professional Boundaries – A Detailed Appraisal

    When professional boundaries are breached, unexpected consequences may occur. The NMBA provides a guide on professional boundaries. Why is maintaining a professional relationship/boundary in midwifery so important and what are the consequences of breaching this boundary?

    1:00pm - Lunch Break and Networking


    Unprofessional Conduct and Impairment

    Anyone can make a complaint about a midwife’s health, performance or conduct under the National Law . However, it also requires that a registered health practitioner must notify the relevant Board if, in the course of practising their profession, they form a reasonable belief that another registered health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes ‘notifiable conduct’.

    • What is notifiable conduct?
    • How does the National Law define unprofessional conduct and impairment?
    • What is the NMBA guideline for mandatory notification?
    • What are the exemptions from mandatory notification?
    • Who is responsible for making a report and when is it mandatory?
    • How to make a report
    • What are the powers of investigators under the National Law?


    When Would a Midwife be Considered Unprofessional in Their Conduct?

    This session will be a discussion of issues specific to midwives and will examine examples from health professional case summaries published by AHPRA. It will also look at a compassionate and supportive framework for rehabilitation.

    3:15pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    Social Media and the Health Practitioner

    Social media use amongst health practitioners, while valuable, may also have negative effects on professional standards depending on how it used. This session will discuss the growing issues and pitfalls of health practitioners using social media and look at some cases of unprofessional conduct and the relevance to guidelines, especially in the context of codes of conduct and ethics.


    Summary and Final Questions

    4:30pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations


    Linda Starr

    Linda Starr

    Dr. Linda Starr is a general and psychiatric qualified Nurse, Lawyer and Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Her research interests have been in health law for health practitioners, criminal law, forensic health care, and elder abuse investigation. Her recently completed PhD project explored the experience of those involved in the compulsory reporting of elder abuse in Commonwealth funded residential aged care facilities. Linda is currently the Chair of the State Board of the Nursing and Midwifery Board, Australia, Deputy Chair of the Aged Rights Advocacy Service, and the Foundation President of the Australian Forensic Nurses Association. She has an extensive speaking record nationally and internationally on issues in health law, forensic nursing and elder abuse.

    Midwifery and the Law
    Interest Areas / Topics Covered
    Provider Type
    11 hours
    Start Date
    End Date
    11 hours
    Price Details
    Brisbane City QLD 4000
    Hotel Ibis Brisbane, 27 - 35 Turbot Street
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