Midwives want more pay

Midwives deliver babies. They do more than that. They look after a woman during her pregnancy and for 6 weeks after the birth. It is a responsible job and also demanding. Babies are very often born at night, sometimes after a long labour. The midwife usually stays with the woman during that time.

Most midwives are self-employed but are paid by the Health Department. It is a free service for women. Women visit the midwife in her own rooms during the pregnancy, but babies are usually born in a hospital. After the birth, the midwife visits the mother and baby at home.

The average pay, after expenses, is between $40,000 and $60,000. Self-employed people do not get holiday pay or sick pay.

Midwives are now prepared to go to the High Court for better pay. They say that it is a gender pay issue. This is mostly a female occupation. If it was a male occupation, it would be better paid. This of course, is difficult to prove.

This case follows from the successful rest home care workers’ case. Kristine Bartlett, who was working in a rest home looking after elderly patients, took a case to the High Court. Like other rest home carers, she was paid the minimum wage, which at that time was just under $14 an hour. The claim was that the pay was low because it was mostly a female occupation. If it was a male occupation, the pay would be better.


• midwife – the word probably comes from Old English mid = with and wif = woman; a woman who is with another woman to assist with childbirth
• pregnancy (n) pregnant (adj) – the period before birth (normally 40 weeks)
• demanding (adj) – requires skill and experience, can be difficult
• gender (n) – male or female (For some people, gender is a cultural distinction; sex is biological)
• to prove (v) – find evidence
• claim (v and n) – demand (for equal pay)

Useful expressions about babies

1. midwives / doctors deliver babies.
2. before /during /after the birth
3. babies are born e.g. I was born in (date, place); My daughter / son was born x years ago.
4. She gave birth (formal); she had her baby (informal)
5. Has she had her baby yet?
6. When are you due? What’s your due date?
7. I’m / She is pregnant.


Can you compare these occupations with that of a midwife: police, doctor, fire officer, ambulance worker (paramedic)? Think of emergency work, responsibility, range of duties, training etc.

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