Safe Arrivals

Safe Arrivals is a training program for midwives with an aim to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity rates in rural and remote areas of Cambodia. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Cambodia currently has one of the worst maternal mortality ratios in the world; 450 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Measuring maternal mortality is commonly underreported or misreported in developing countries – Cambodia’s unofficial maternal mortality is estimated to be as high as 700/100,000. In comparison Australia’s ratio is 11/100,000 meaning a pregnant woman in Cambodia has 83 times the chance of dying in childbirth or from complications than a woman in Australia.


Click here for our latest Safe Arrivals training program project brief.


In Cambodia, every three and a half hours a mother dies in childbirth or from complications relating to pregnancy

Nearly 90% of Cambodia’s women are assisted in labour, delivery and the immediate postpartum period by a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA). Most of these midwives learn their trade by observing other birth attendants – or by trial and error.

Take Sroun Narom for example, she’s 51 years old and has been a TBA since 1971. Over many years she has helped deliver hundreds of babies. She has had no formal training, in fact she learnt to be a TBA from her sister when she was just 11 years old and her sister was 13.

Safe Arrivals acknowledges the vital role that TBAs play and the connectedness that they have with their local communities. However, we also recognise the importance of training and education in helping bridge the gaps in understanding and knowledge.

Increasing the availability of skilled health workers means more women survive childbirth and more children live through infancy. A 10% increase in skilled health workers corresponds to a 5% reduction in maternal deaths.

The Safe Arrivals Training Program understands that tradition will continue to touch lives, training can help save them.


“The Safe Arrivals program is one of the best experiences I have had in my 40 years as a midwife. Knowing that I am working with midwives and birth attendants to help achieve Millennium Development Goal 5 is a humbling and truly memorable experience. Safe Arrivals is making a powerful difference to the lives of mothers and babies in Cambodia.”Dr Pauline Glover, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery Flinders University Adelaide



Safe Arrivals program consultant Dr Lois McKellar from UniSA’s Division of Nursing and Midwifery observes, “If you lose the TBA you lose access to women. They are the link. Do away with the link and you do away with improving maternal health”.

Christine MacArthur Professor of Maternal and Child Epidemiology from the University of Birmingham notes, “Although a skilled birth attendant for all women is obviously the ideal, … it may be years before this is a feasible option”.  MacArthur goes on to say, “In one trial, the most promising interventions for reducing perinatal mortality and morbidity were training traditional birth attendants …. and strengthening linkages”.


Our dedicated volunteers

What’s so amazing about each of our team is that on top of everything else (jobs and families) they give up their time, money and energy to be a part of the Safe Arrivals program. Not only do they pay their own way and use their holiday time to be there; they’ve each met a fundraising target to make sure the training goes ahead! Here’s what some had to say:

“The enthusiasm to learn simple initiatives to ensure a safe birth for both mother and baby was tremendously encouraging”
Beth Grinter; Program Director/Course Coordinator Midwifery UniSA

“Life changing”
Kate Shadiac; Midwife Flinders Medical Centre

You go thinking you’re going to change lives. You have no idea the extent that the Safe Arrivals program makes a difference, or the amazing way these beautiful people will change you own life”
Suzie Tucker; Midwife Women’s & Children’s Hospital

“A mother’s love for her baby is unconditional. A safe birth is a rite that we take for granted.”
Tania McKenzie; Midwife and Lecturer UniSA


Cambodia is the only country in its region to record an increasing infant mortality rate; 106 deaths per 1000 live births (Australia’s rate is 4.7).

The 2h Project receives no Australian State or Commonwealth Government funding to run the Safe Arrivals training. Neither does the Cambodian Government make any financial contributions to the program.

Every dollar given directly offsets the training costs, no monies are used for administration, organisational or personal expenses.

Will you consider making a tax-deductible donation today?

Without Safe Arrivals’ innovative and effective training program countless mothers and babies will continue to die unnecessarily – every minute of every day really does count.