Hospital-Based Infant Removal: Practitioner Experiences at the Interface of Maternity Health and Child Protection

Ms Maegan Johnsen1

1The University of Western Australian and King Edward Memorial Hopsital for Women , Subiaco , Australia

The hospital-based removal of a newborn infant by a statutory child protection service is a complex social process; traumatic for the mother, the family and for the practitioners involved. The number of newborn infants being removed from maternity services is on the rise in Western Australia, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants continuing to be overrepresented. There is a growing international body of scholarship in the area of infant removal, however only limited attention has been paid to the experiences of practitioners involved in hospital-based infant removals (HBIR).Given the traumatic and long-term effects of the removal of an infant, scholarly work which contributes to the development of interdisciplinary understanding and practice in this area is urgently required. Improvement in collaborative, interdisciplinary practice at the interface of health and child protection has the potential to decrease the number of newborn infants entering care.  This qualitative research aims to develop a conceptual understanding of HBIR grounded directly in the experiences and perspectives of practitioners involved. New knowledge generated will address existing gaps in the scholarly literature by informing understanding about interdisciplinary practice in the context of HBIR. This represents a unique contribution to knowledge which has the potential to improve interdisciplinary collaboration and decision-making at the interface of maternity health and child protection.


Maegan Johnsen (MSW) is employed as a perinatal social worker at King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women (KEMH), Western Australia’s only tertiary maternity hospital.  Supporting women with child protection involvement in pregnancy is a core element of Maegan’s clinical work at KEMH. Observations made while working at the interface of maternity health and child protection have been the catalyst for her PhD research through which she aims to  improve interdisicplinray practice and thus outcomes for both staff and consumers engaged in this complex space.

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