OBJECTIVE: to describe Australian midwifery academics' perceptions of the current barriers and enablers for simulation in midwifery education in Australia and the potential and resources required for simulation to be increased. DESIGN: a series of 11 focus groups/interviews were held in all states and territories of Australia with 46 participating academics nominated by their heads of discipline from universities across the country. FINDINGS: three themes were identified relating to barriers to the extension of the use of simulated learning environments (SLEs) ('there are things that you can't simulate'; 'not having the appropriate resources'; and professional accreditation requirements) and three themes were identified to facilitate SLE use ('for the bits that you're not likely to see very often in clinical'; ['for students] to figure something out before [they] get to go out there and do it on the real person'; and good resources and support). KEY CONCLUSION: although barriers exist to the adoption and spread of simulated learning in midwifery, there is a long history of simulation and a great willingness to enhance its use among midwifery academics in Australia. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: while some aspects of midwifery practice may be impossible to simulate, more collaboration and sharing in the development and use of simulation scenarios, equipment, space and other physical and personnel resources would make the uptake of simulation in midwifery education more widespread. Students would therefore be exposed to the best available preparation for clinical practice contributing to the safety and quality of midwifery care.