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Andrea Robertson was a childbirth educator since 1974. Having worked as an Occupational Therapist in both Australia and New York, following the birth of her two children she became active in consumer maternity groups. As National President of Parents Centres Australia from 1978-1984, she orchestrated many campaigns for the improvement of maternity services in Australia, and initiated many programs of educational services for health professionals and consumers.
In 1985 Andrea established Associates in Childbirth Education (ACE), a private educational consultancy to continue the training of educators and to provide in-service and update workshops for midwives and other health professionals interested in birth.
ACE Graphics, an associated business, provides teaching aids, equipment and books which support the “active birth” philosophy and midwifery care. In 1997, the company Birth International was formed, to incorporate both ACE Graphics and Associates in Childbirth Education under the same umbrella structure. From 1994 until 2007 a Branch office operated in the United Kingdom to enable ACE services to reach the United Kingdom and European Community.
Birth International is the major sponsor of overseas speakers within Australia, and arranges seminars and workshops using international guest lecturers. Many such events and speaking tours have been arranged, with speakers such as Michel Odent, Caroline Flint, Dr Murray Enkin, Dr Marsden Wagner, Doris Haire, Nicky Leap, Ann-Marie Widstrom, Janet Balaskas, Elizabeth Davis, Dr Wendy Savage, Dr Mavis Kirkham, Dr Sandy Kirkman, Polly Ferguson, Dr Marcos Dias, amongst many others.
Andrea Robertson was instrumental in establishing the first training course for childbirth educators in Australia in 1977, using models from the US (ICEA) and the UK (NCT) as the basis of designing a course with distance learning as one of its objectives. Over the years this course has evolved, and in 1993 the Course was accredited through the Australian Government’s Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board as a Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education (a world first).
Leading prenatal classes for expectant parents has been an important part of her work, and she has presented these in a variety of formats. In addition, she has attended many births as a support person, and provided individual counselling for private clients.
Her first book, Preparing for Birth was published in 1987 and has quickly established itself as one of the most widely used class handouts in the Australia and the best selling book on birth in Australia. It is now in its Fifth Edition, having sold over 350,000 copies. Teaching Active Birth was published in 1988, and Making Birth Easier in 1990. Empowering Women – teaching active birth, published in 1994, has been acclaimed by childbirth educators, and her latest book, The Midwife Companion – the art of support during birth was released in February 1997, with a second edition published in 2004.
Originally based in Sydney, Andrea travelled extensively to present workshops, around Australia and overseas to the United Kingdom, the United States, South East Asia, South America, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand. Andrea presented an average of 50 two-day workshops each year in a number of countries. These are primarily “Active Birth” workshops, but also included “Effective Prenatal Education”, “Effective Facilitation” and custom designed programs for specific Hospitals and Departments of Health. Andrea also had registered as a consultant with the World Health Organisation and carried out several missions on their behalf in Iran.
Andrea died suddenly during April 2015, while still maintaining a busy workload. Andrea’s work continues on through Birth International who promises to to continue her life’s work. Andrea had a huge influence on the lives of midwives and childbirth educators over a period of more than 30 years. She will be missed by us all.