In Galiwin’ku, Baby Hub is changing lives, right from the start.
At the northeast tip of the Northern Territory there is a small island that is home to a First Nations community of 2,000 people.
At the heart of this town, there’s a special hub.
Outside, the street shimmers in the heat, it’s over 40 degrees. Inside, children are playing.
Some kids run around and play with toys, while others stay close to their mothers, dozing on a chair or beanbag in a cool, quiet corner. Staff at the centre offer mothers food, nappies, and words of support. Everywhere you look you can see the power of love, care, and compassion.
This is Baby Hub.
Baby Hub is in Galiwin’ku, also known as Elcho Island, at the top of the Northern Territory. Surrounded by water, the island’s landscape is rich with red dirt, wildlife, and First Nations culture.
Established in 2012, Baby Hub was set up as a partnership between Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and Australian Red Cross. Staffed predominantly by First Nations community workers, Baby Hub provides wholistic support for mothers and babies, combining western and cultural medical attention, as well as emotional support.
At its core, Baby Hub centre exists for the women and babies of Galiwin’ku aiming to improve growth outcomes for babies in their first 1,000 days of life, as well as boost parents' confidence, education, parenting skills and wellbeing.
It is the only hub of its kind in Australia.
In this community, the pre-term birth rate is three times the national average. So, for expectant mothers in Galiwin’ku, having care within the community is critical for not just them, but their unborn baby too.
An additional challenge is the island’s remoteness, Galiwin’ku is 550km from Darwin. The closest hospital is in Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land, a one-hour plane trip away. This means the resources and medical support that Baby Hub provides to an average of 10 to 15 mothers and babies every single week, are critical.
Without Baby Hub, hundreds of women and children would go without food, nappies, education, and support.
Jenanne is a First Nations woman, a mother, and a community worker at Baby Hub. She says, “Baby Hub is a safe house for kids. It is important to have a safe place where mums and kids feel comfortable.”
It is also important that new and young mothers feel comfortable here to learn parenting skills and feel supported, they need to know that they are not alone in motherhood.
Bridget Woods, Australian Red Cross Team Leader at Baby Hub, says, “I’ve always felt a strong kinship to other women, particularly mothers. I get a lot of gratification from ensuring that we are supporting one another and making sure we’re doing everything we can so that everyone can have access to health, wellness, and happiness.”
She has been working at Baby Hub for more than five years, and says her appreciation for the hub and the women in the community continues to grow over time.
“I feel very lucky to be here and have strong relationships with a lot of people. The Western world operating outside of Galiwin’ku can learn a lot about what true connection and community means.”
“Everyone here is consistently working together to support one another, and that’s how it should be.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child, this is certainly true in Galiwin’ku.
Baby Hub is generously funded by our partner Bayer and it is thanks to this partnership that Baby Hub can continue to support the women and children of Galiwin’ku.
With a focus on empowering local communities through inclusive growth, Bayer’s partnership with Baby Hub recognises and strengthens the impact this service has on improving maternal and infant health in this deeply connected community.