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Risking Our Kids -

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THEME MUSIC and provide for their child, Most parents want to be good parents can get in the way. but a lot of things

All right, Phoebe, (PHOEBE GASPS FOR BREATH) of the ambulance, we're going to get you in the back all sorted out. we'll get that breathing Mum's coming behind us. (GASPS) Good. on you, Phoebe. Going to put this mask

with your breathing, OK? It's going to help

That's a good girl. these paradoxical rises Why are we seeing

affecting children and young people? in these profoundly worrying problems asthma attack she's had? Is this the first Yeah? Yes it is.

Yes. has it gotten worse, Has it rapidly - or has it stayed the same? Princess Margaret Hospital. We'll take her into now being classified I mean, 25% of five-year-olds as overweight and obese. in Australian society rocketing up - And the rate of type 2 diabetes was a children's disease. in children - and it never female on a priority one. WOMAN: Bringing in a six-year-old at 9% on oxygen. She's currently saturated Our ETA is five minutes. She's got expiratory wheezes. the economists promised us, We expected - and in a way, and everyone will benefit." "Let us create wealth, "A rising tide, all boats will rise." The economists said, you know, left stranded in the mud. And of course, many have been what's a child health expert I mean, heavens above, the bloody economy? doing talking about

with child health!

with suicide - has it? That's got nothing to do Well, we believe it has. Mum, where are we going? respond to these challenges, My sense is that if we don't

seriously address them, and start to really in every state and territory, across the whole nation, and across the whole world, really, our generation, my generation, then we will be looking at that lives longer than its parents. as being the last generation Professor Fiona Stanley, 'Perth scientist, to take care of its children has been pleading with the nation

all of her working life.' I love science. all the kinds of science I just love supporting a difference to society. that are going to make endeavour right for a country, If we get the scientific all the planks that we need we've actually got that can take our society forward. to plan the kinds of things view of science I have. So it's a big picture the Telethon Institute 'This view is reflected in

for Child Health Research established in 1989. Fiona and her colleagues scientific leader, Now an international an extraordinary team, it brings together of children's health research.' working at the cutting edge if you really wanted to understand But the whole idea, really, was that in children's diseases and problems what were the real causes and those sorts of things, groups of people you would need to get together

kinds of bits of the jigsaw who understood all the different this disease or this problem. that fit together to make making a difference Your genes are only to your health or disease environment during development. if they interact with their who understands genetics So you have to have somebody and the proteins and cell biology. who also understands the molecules

works in the whole child. You have to understand how that how the child fits into its family, And you then have to understand in families, and then in a community, all the things that happen patterns of the world. and then in the big-picture (KIDS LAUGH) performance awards are... The two parent

the institute comes together 'Once a year, to review its research. sounds warning bells This year, the emerging picture for the nation's children.' is actually a very strong predictor Being over-tired at the age of two and destructive behaviour for aggressive up to thirteen. at every age from five up to 80% of child abuse reports Some studies are citing that parenting. have drug and alcohol-affected to looking after the children Most of my time is committed signs of stress. that already are showing to parental exposure These mutations may be due to certain chemical agents. You can down two of those mixes had a binge drink, and you've already for the youth of today. which is common intake that are happening So all of the things right out in a global world - what a child in Perth might eat, an advertisement in America decides or be exposed to. or play with, or watch,

of how genes and environment interact All of that's important in terms in one way or another. to cause you to develop is an international expert 'Dr Fraser Mustard on early childhood development. on projects to focus He collaborates with Fiona on children's health.' global governments' attention a healthy, prosperous society You basically say, how can we keep

which is democratic and pluralistic? Yes, yes. That's what you're out to do.

But I love that. Because I love the fact I know. and we're going to be doing things, that we're going to be doing science, for a just and civil society. which are actually going to be... I love it, I just love that. of this institution The unique properties

control functions. are it's independent of standard and it's not a university, It has its own board

to mobilise talented people and therefore, it's able to interact with each other from different disciplines to push the important agendas here. So it's unusual in Australia. in the real world, It's probably pretty unusual of what it does. in terms of the scale and scope in the hazardous drinking This incredible increase

that when they get pregnant, of young people means they are putting their kids at risk. What are people doing about it? How many people know about that? In Australia, alcohol is a joke. Fiona is so well known to you all, Australian of the Year, Director of the Child Heath Research Foundation, but what we're really using Fiona for today is to set the context for this debate in the best interests of the Indigenous peoples of Western Australia. The evidence is available. It's been available since the deaths in custody, since the Royal Commission on the Bringing Them Home, the WA Aboriginal Child Health Survey, the Little Children Are Sacred, Sue Gordon's report. Almost every one of them. Go back, look at the recommendations. Many of them are very similar. Many of them address the social determinants of health. Many of them are absolutely what we need to do. These are the kind of outcomes that our senior bureaucrats are responsible to deliver improvements on. Implement it. And if you don't, you're sacked.

When Fiona first started, she outlined a vision, a vision for children's health, a vision for research, and a vision to help the people, particularly in Western Australia, and she had a focus on Aboriginal welfare.

Her story was so compelling, it was easy to become involved in wanting to support her. There are a worrying number of threats to children's health in today's society, and they're worrying from a lot of viewpoints. They're worrying because they're very burdensome, and many of them are increasing. And they're worrying because, on the whole, they're getting more complex, they're occurring at younger and younger ages.

But if you look at the overall trend, in many problems, they are actually showing no improvement, or some of them are getting dramatically worse. 'Four-year-old Edward Merko has been part of the Institute's asthma study since he was two.' Between 1960 and 1975 to 1980, the prevalence, perhaps doubled, but it's quadrupled within the next ten years, and probably doubled again in the ten years after that. Two in five kids like me have some asthma. The thing that we know is that there is no single cause for the major changes that we've seen. And we see these changes in association with increasing affluence of lifestyle - if you like, the Western lifestyle. So it's not just housing, it's not just interaction with the environment it's not just diet, it's not just television or computer games, it's a combination of many of these factors that are likely to contribute to the increase in asthma that we see. Globally, it's going to overwhelm countries like India and China. They...if they follow the path that the Western world has followed,

we estimate there'll be something like 250 million more children with asthma in ten years time, in India and China alone. 'In the light of such alarming figures, Pat Holt and Peter Sly's asthma research takes on an urgency. They are giving allergens to susceptible babies

to chart the developing immune system's response. What they are searching for is a way to educate this immune system

to ignore dangerous allergic triggers.'

If you quarantine the immune system completely from the microbial environment, then it never grows up, it stays like Peter Pan's immune system, if you like. So a little twitch of germs is extremely good for us. The problem is getting the balance right. Bite on the mouthpiece. That's it.

Part of the risk, if we're wrong, is that we could actually create allergies in these children, and if we create allergies, we could create more asthma, because these children are at high risk. We think we're on a safe thing to do.

We still have to demonstrate whether it's an effective thing to do, and that will come over the next few years.

There are some recent data from a long-term study in England, and they were able to show that there is quite a significant increase in the risk of wheezing in early childhood, and persistent asthma, in the children whose mothers used more household cleaning products and chemicals than those who did not. There is an estimate worldwide 20 to 40,000 new chemical entities on the market every year.

And there is no regulation in any country that really adequately tests these. I'm going to say something which is going to sound a bit flippant, but give me a polio any day. Get the bug, get the vaccine, give the vaccine, polio gone. Suicide and mental health problems - complex. Diabetes, obesity - complex. Smoking and alcohol in kids - complex.

Not as if you can get the bug, get the vaccine, and it's the end of the story. We're looking for a vaccine for suicide, you know. It's not that easy.

So these problems are complex and they are often caused by longstanding risks that have often gone over

perhaps even a generation or two in families. So it's not as if we're going to fix these very quickly.

If we look at the next week, just to show you what it's like, you're away, away, you're in Perth, but you've got WADB and appointments all day, then Jigalong, so we don't really see you very much that week. When's our intensive two-day grant writing? Eighth and ninth. Fine. There's going to be about 50 girls, they're 11-year-olds, so they want you to spend about 10 to 15 minutes with the girls, first talking about your research and what you think about science and medicine, and then they've got lots of questions to ask. From the time that little baby is growing inside the mum's womb,

and in the first years of a child's life, when you're a tiny baby, the things that happen around you, the stress levels in the house, what kind of food you might be given, whether you're breastfed or not, all these things affect your whole-life chances of health or disease. That means that if you want to make the biggest difference to the health of an adult, you might have to start when that adult is in its mother's womb. Alcohol, you know what alcohol is. It's a toxic product. We know now, because of the research that we're doing, that if mums drink alcohol in pregnancy, particularly if they drink a lot of alcohol, and many women do, they will have babies whose brains are damaged for life. So we are now doing a huge amount of research to prevent foetal alcohol syndrome, because it's now the most important preventable cause of brain damage to the baby. What is the most common disease you see in children? The most common disease we now see in young children, in young adults, young teenagers, is depression.

And the tip of that horrible iceberg of mental health problems is suicide, and for adolescents, that's been getting more and more common over the last 20 or 30 years. It's very hard to talk to families whose children who've suicided. Can you imagine what that's like? Do any of you know anyone or any family that's had a suicide? That's...that's terrible. So you know what I'm talking about. And I just don't mean a little bit of a rise in mental health problems, I mean a quadrupling of adolescent male suicide rates. I mean, 15 to 20% of teenagers having a significant mental health problem that interferes with their daily lives. And there's another whole area that feeds into mental health problems, that's enormously worrying. And that's what we call substance abuse. Smoking, alcohol, drugs.

I care very deeply that so many young people are putting themselves at such high risk. So that's why you're so important to me. Because I want you all to have the chances of not only you having a healthy life, but of yours kids, and that starts here, starts right here. Having a child changes you forever, I think.

You never stop being a parent. And so whilst my daughters are now older, they're 30 and 28, they are still a hugely important part of my life. This place down here, near Denmark, is a bit like my spirit country, I think. The trees down here, in particular, mean a lot to my spiritual centre.

Because of the wonder of them, and the fact that whatever's happening in the world,

there are these karri trees growing, just being here, and often when I'm in my most stressful times back in the office, I say to myself, "Now, remember, the waves are crashing on the rocks,

and the karri are just down there in the forest, and who gives... (LAUGHS) ..whatever." I think over the last, not just 11 years, but 15 to 20 years of inaction over the application of evidence about Aboriginal disparity has been appalling. That's been anguishing to all of us working in the area of Aboriginal health and wellbeing. And I will never forgive people for that, because it's held Aboriginal people back. 'The Institute's Kalunga Unit is the leading Aboriginal science group in the country. Its recent participation in the Western Australian Aboriginal Child Research Survey produced groundbreaking data.' We're some of the most over-researched people in the world.

But very often, research is something that's being done to us, or at us, or about us. This was actually a conscious move to involve Indigenous people so that it was us at the cutting face, and us actually doing the research about us, telling our own and each others' stories. Until the survey, there's been no real,

independently verifiable means of looking at a population level to see what the impact of being raised in a household that's been affected by forced removal. When we look at the Aboriginal population,

we saw that around 40% of Aboriginal children currently between the age of nought and eighteen,

were living in households where either a parent or a grandparent had themselves been forcibly removed. He will allow you to walk past,

he will allow you to hunt for bush tucker. What we're looking at here is a collective harm,

and that harm is beyond doubt, it's substantial, and it endures across more than one generation.

So you're very, very lucky that you've got your parents with you. It's something that I never had,

and if I would have had my time over again,

I would have stayed with my parents. 'Fiona has been instrumental in fostering the careers of Aboriginal researchers. She believes an Aboriginal workforce is key to improving Aboriginal children's health.' But you'll send me that stuff?

Yeah, I'll get it to you straight away. Yeah, and anything else you think around it... 'The Institute currently funds ten Aboriginal postgraduate researchers.' Science is really important, because we need to know facts from fiction, you know. But there's an Aboriginal way of doing the science. One of the important things that Kalunga did was to reiterate to the researchers that the communication back of the findings was incredibly important and should be a priority.

One of the things that the community wanted was to learn about identity, their family history, and culture and language. This is your country, here. You are the eighth generation of Aboriginal children. You are indigenous to this country,

that means you are the first people of this country. My passion about Aboriginal health actually started with one Aboriginal kid that came into Princess Margaret Hospital with severe diarrhoea and... 15% dehydrated with gastroenteritis. And he came in three times to the hospital.

The second time I particularly remember, because we had this very, very sick child, we'd worked on him for three or four weeks,

and then there was a photo in the newspaper, saying,

"Medical miracle, child survives 15% dehydration," etc. The child was then sent back to the very community that had caused the problem in the first place, and then, when the child came in again, he died. We weren't able to save him. And I was devastated by this. I thought, "I really don't know if I can be a doctor."

That's why it was so important to find out about preventative medicine and epidemiology and all of those things. I came from a family that was very committed to researching and discovery, and having that wonder of discovery, I think. And that just translated into a phenomenal family life.

We lived in Sydney because my dad was trying to develop a polio vaccine at the height of the polio epidemic. So, some of my first memories are seeing my dad in his laboratory, blowing spinal cords out of mice, trying to get, obviously, the antibodies so that they could make a vaccine. It was just totally somehow understood that you would want to work on polio virus, because you wanted to prevent polio. 'Fiona's own sense of social justice is never far from the surface. She has come to Port Hedland to support a group of young, mainly Aboriginal, teenagers who want to play a part in how their community is run. The council has called an extraordinary meeting to listen to their ideas.' I'm going to be presenting the Shout Out workshop that we did on the 24th of February with the youth.

They were saying stuff like, "Family, too much drinking, got nowhere safe to go, too much stress on the younger kids to help out with the babies, and racism, although you can't see it, but it's still here in this town."

People have some very negative views about Jigalong, Port Hedland, all these sorts of places where you go and meet Aboriginal groups, and you can see all the photos, again, all these negative photos, and everyone thinks its awful. Big smile, please. Should we all poke out our tongues? One more please. (ALL LAUGH) And another one. Oh dear.

One...two...three. Can we be cross-eyed? Now, if all these families are so dysfunctional, these communities why do they make you feel so good? the grit dreadlocks. Dreadlocks! I'm getting scratchy! (ALL LAUGH) 'Her first of many meetings is with local primary school teachers, getting out her constant message.' There is just absolutely no doubt, after parents, primary school teachers and early childhood educators are the most important people, THE most important people, for the future wellbeing of children.

And with an increasing proportion of Australian parents often not able to parent effectively, you actually become crucial. The council was really interesting. When we've got the two skate parks, which was just recently concluded, that was designed and selected by the children. And let me tell you, from all our research, communities that put children and young people

in the middle of their planning, are the best communities for everybody.

That's right, yeah.

Yeah, yeah. And then you're worried about their brains, what's happening, at that really crucial stage. It's really tough.

Oh, yeah.

Australia's not travelling particularly well with its youth. Many are saying, you know, "We're not asking about why so many kids are being abused, we just want to lock everybody up.

Get 'em in the jails. That'll solve the problem." Well, actually it hasn't, interestingly. In fact, the only evidence we have about putting people in detention, particularly young people, is that it increases crime. I find it really amazing that a lot of people in white Australia don't understand more about the Aboriginal circumstance. There's this big myth about the fact that we've poured so much money into Aboriginal Australia, into their health services, into their welfare services and so on,

but there are several points I want to make about that. The first thing is, it's been totally inadequate, and a lot of it, I'm afraid, has gone into white bureaucracy and white governance and white administration, often...often being inappropriate. The second point is that much of that investment has been too late to show a difference. For example, putting renal dialysis into remote Aboriginal communities may be humane, but it won't reduce renal disease. The only things that will reduce renal disease is working in the pathways at the beginning and trying to stop it happening in the first place. The third point, successive governments, on the whole, have ignored the impact of forcible removal of people from their lands, their families, the Stolen Generation, the removal of everything that was near and dear to them by the invasion, if you like, of their lands and territories by white society. And that has been very, very harmful to Aboriginal people. It's been harmful to their spirit. And when you take people's spirit away, they get sick. Yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah. Yes, yes. So kids are getting depression, and those sorts of things, out here? Or are they pretty OK? Have you done one? (SPEAKS LOCAL LANGUAGE) I like that. We're talking about making you healthy. I like that. So a lot of the stuff that we see in Aboriginal kids and in white kids, I mean, they're no different.

I mean, this isn't an Aboriginal problem. This is a marginalisation problem. This is a problem where kids aren't getting the right resources early on so that they can be effective and be ready for school, you know, not have ill health, not participate appropriately. So I keep on saying this, it's not an Aboriginal problem. '350km southeast of Port Hedland is the remote Aboriginal community of Jigalong. The institute has a long relationship with this community. It conducted the first study here that looked at the health benefits of building public swimming pools in Aboriginal communities.' They were putting pools in three remote communities and we worked in Burringurrah, which is sort of which is sort of east of Carnarvon and in Jigalong. On your mark, get set, go! And it was a six-year study. And so we examined the children before the pool went in

and then several times a year after the pool went in

for six years. (ALL LAUGH AND PANT) Put it there.

Of course, I think it was the parents who came and said, you know, it'd be really good if you had a rule that you can't go into the pool unless you've been to school. OK, Nemo, big jump and swim out to the platform. Ready and go! White parents instil a little bit of fear in their kids about the water, whereas you see, like, the mothers out here, they're just like, "Yeah, jump in, go under." Go, Derek! And their little kids, just little babies, will just swim amazingly in the water. Great swimming! Well done! Well done! It was an incredible team effort to all work together to make sure that this pool was going to deliver for those kids the best outcome. We developed a skin sore score for looking at skin sores. We have a theory that if you have fewer skin sores and it's the same bug, the same organism infecting the skin that infects the kidneys, it could well be an important pathway,

we believe, to the prevention of renal disease. One, two. We looked at ears, we looked at respiratory infections, we looked at respiratory function. So I'll tell your grandma, OK? OK. Go! Five, six, seven, eight!

One, two, three, ho!

I think research has really let down Aboriginal people, because they didn't involve them in the decisions about what research should be done, nor how the research information should be used. Because so much of that information gets into the newspapers and it's bad news. And yet again and again, you hear this shameful stuff about Aboriginal populations and Aboriginal rates of this and that. Can you imagine how that feels? Every time you pick up a newspaper, it's got something nasty about Aboriginal people in it? That they're sick and they've got STDs and they've got high rates of this and they die too soon and they do bad things to their kids.

What research should be doing for Aboriginal communities is researching things which are important for them, because they know more about their circumstances than we do. And so the whole idea is to actually do what we're doing in the institute, involving Aboriginal people from the very beginning, actually having them take control over much of the research agenda. That's going take a while, but it's been a really exciting road to do that.

ALL: Whoa!

One in two kids like me... 'The institute is combining environmental research with genetics in a major study

into the ear infection otitis media. Geneticist Jenefer Blackwell

has returned from Cambridge to lead the study.'

Quite often, with complex diseases such as otitis media, which is one of the big interests that we have. You'll find that the disease clusters in families. And sometimes that can mean a direct genetic affect,

something that you inherit directly that affects your susceptibility to that disease. But sometimes it can mean that you're sharing an environment and so there's some environmental risk factor which is making you more susceptible. So what the application of genetics allows us to do is to find some evidence on the basis of genes for both the genetic and the environmental risk factors. So just in the side there again. That's perfect.

A lot of saliva in there. Thank you, Hunter. (LAUGHS) It makes it absolutely far more powerful

if we can have Mum and Dad to participate as well. That's the kind of approach that we would like to apply. And our first study that we've initiated is to do a study of genetics of otitis media in Western Australian children of all nationalities. But we believe that the approach can then be rolled out into whatever complex disease studies we want to do in communities in Australia.

That's a really important project that we can look as a... as an example of how do we engage the Aboriginal community at a fairly sophisticated research level? And how do we do that so that it's successful in that we get a research project that the Aboriginal people want to happen around genetic research? My goal for the next five years, I suppose, would be to see that we had,

A - brought genetics in as a kind of routine tool

that epidemiologists in the institute can access as part of any study that they're doing. Secondly, that by the time I retired from here, we would have created a centre for Aboriginal genetics that would be run by Aboriginal researchers.

Now, I was quite interested in whether you'd be interested in taking any of your work out into there?

I've never ever been out to Wiluna But I'd be interested in having a sit down and having a yarn with you about it, actually, yeah. No, that'd be good. I think it's really important that I practice what I preach. I love swimming

because I get a sense of peace from that. But I also get terrific exercise. Things that are affecting child health and wellbeing, adolescent health and wellbeing, are the rapid pace of life, the technology, the workplace, and how frenetic it's become, how demanding it's become, how we have had a change because of this economic imperative that everyone has to have individual success and that the community doesn't really matter that much. These are big-picture, negative influences on how families can function, how kids are handled, how brains develop in utero and in the first few years of life, how kids can participate or not at school, juvenile crime.

You know, all of these things are hugely negative factors that are happening in a global world. They're all important for how we might improve health and wellbeing, not just amongst our children, but amongst the whole community. We need to get an evidence base around this stuff. And we need to get it urgently. 'Much of the institute's work has focussed on

the importance of early childhood development. In 2003, it adapted a Canadian tool for evaluating whether children are ready for school. Its success in Western Australia over the last five years means it will be adopted nationwide in 2009.' In Australia...

..are not ready for school. The AEDI is what we call a census of children. The database, as it stands at the moment, holds about 40,000 children. There are some communities that are doing very well,

despite the socioeconomics. So these are poorer, you know, areas where there's low levels of education,

where there's not a high degree of income for the families that are living in the region. However, the AEDI results are very good. And then, opposing that,

we have high socioeconomic areas where you'd expect the AEDI to show good results, we're actually seeing some poorer results. 'In Perth's affluent suburb of Floreat, the census revealed these poor results at the Wembley Primary School.' In Wembley in 2003...

..were not ready for school.


'The Wembley children were found to be under-performing in social development, communications and physical health and wellbeing.' In fact, 42% of our children

were delayed in two developmental domains. 'Further investigation into the Floreat families revealed high levels of postnatal depression, lack of community resources and parents isolated from their neighbours.' A lot of research tells us that from zero to 12 years of age, the parent has 79% impact

on their child's attainment level. What are you noticing on each page with the words? School only had 7% impact. We discovered from communicating with parents that they felt that although most of them were professional people, they had little knowledge about child development, so, therefore, they weren't able to identify

whether their child was having a problem or not.

Who have we got here? We've got Jack. So we felt that we needed to focus on developing the parents' capacity to understand the needs that their children may have. Right there. Who brought Dad for the first time? Me! You did. When we had the first play groups, parents came with their children, but they stood back.

So, you know, we initially sort of said, "Well, you know, we need to teach these parents

how to sit on the floor and play with their kids." Rargh! The focus for today is fine motor coordination and using scissors, and pencil control. Do you know what we're going to be making? We're going to be making a sheep. It's hard to sort evaluate how much Australia values its children, but I think when we're only one of the few OECD countries that doesn't give universal parental leave - paid parental leave - what's that saying about parenting? We don't care? We don't care about parents? We're not going to allow them to have leave so they can actually be a parent? The most important job they may ever do in their entire lives

and we don't even let them do that and support them in that function? # Yes, sir, yes, sir Three bags full # One for the master And one for the dame # And one for the little boy who lives down the lane. # I wonder why it was a black sheep? In 2006, we were given the opportunity to be surveyed again.

And we found that only 11% of our student population had any developmental delays. # I, I... #

'At the other end of the economic spectrum, the Challis Primary School in Perth's southern suburb of Armadale is currently being reassessed. Its first AEDI assessment produced similar results to Floreat.

The question is, with more limited resources, will Challis make the same gains in its second assessment?'

Many of our parents are challenged by a number of factors that do impinge on their ability to be able to parent their children. We have a significantly high rate of drug and alcohol addiction. We have many single mums who have large families and are struggling to care for the needs of all of their children. We have a high number of children who are in foster care situations, a high number of mums or dads or both who are incarcerated and a significant number of women living in domestic violence. And, of course, families and children suffer

in that sort of an environment. You know, there are things that we can do to try and bring families together,

to try and buffer that, to try and support that. 'Collecting children for school is one of the many services Challis is providing to help parents in need.' Make sure you keep it away from the little kids if it's hot. We start from the beginning of the day with breakfast club.

Spaghetti. One or two? Two, please. A healthy, nutritious breakfast is served so that, especially the little children, have a full tummy, they can concentrate on the task that the teacher is asking them to complete. Vegemite, please. One or two? We feed up to 150 children in a week. Many of those children also come without lunch, so we have emergency lunches made up. CHILD: I'm not feeling well today. I'm not...I keep coughing, I keep yawning. We're using school facilities to make sure that babies and toddlers are brought onto school premises and engaged in some really high-quality learning experiences. Good boy. "And we must go and tell the King," he said. At the beginning of 2006, we initiated a project

that has had quite outstanding results for our school.

I'm gonna write 'Mum'. Well, get a Texta. It's M-U-M. And the focus of the class is having kindergarten, pre-primary and Year 1 Noongar or Aboriginal children in a multi-aged group. And that means that big brothers and little sisters and cousins can all be placed together. And we've managed to improve attendance from 63% to 89%. Look! Yeah, that's pretty. That's beautiful.

The modernity paradox is where we're finding that Australia's overall income and wealth is increasing, but there appears to be an increasing divide between families who are doing really well and families who are really struggling, um...and where they're finding it hard to find good schooling,

to find adequate housing, to find nutritious food, to find non-stressful neighbourhoods in order to optimise the chances for their children. So if you look at the countries - particularly the countries for which we have good data, for example, in the OECD countries, it's interesting that the countries that are doing relatively worse in these outcomes are the English-speaking countries,

such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and England. And you wonder whether, in fact, the economic policies of those countries have been more profoundly negative for families. The physiological patterns get set up very early in life. Your metabolic rate, the way in which

you are programmed to process foods. It really does depend on what your early experience is in what happens with breast feeding, what happens with the introduction of solids, what kinds of solids and baby foods are consumed. You know, where does that produce come from? So if there's one issue that we really should be tackling, it is the question of what is happening in the intake of Australian children. How is that contributing, you know, to the obesity problems? This is an issue that's comparable to climate change.

It's a major change in the human environment. Wahh! Ooh! In children, we're seeing about a quarter of children are either overweight or obese.

We have much more sugary and fatty diets. Both of those are bad for you. We're getting too much of the wrong sort of fats. We have an enormous change in the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. We're now looking at ratios of 20-30 times to 1 omega-6 to omega-3.

The molecules that are made up with too much omega-6 seem to be associated with an increased vulnerability to stress and the development of mental health problems. Ahh! Now, that has catastrophic consequences for the major health problems that affect adults. When we say that some of these problems have snuck up on us and caught us unawares - and it's particularly so for things like the obesity epidemic and the mental health epidemic - it is quite strange, given that we knew that, when you think about it, the risk factors were there. We knew that kids were doing less exercise, that they were eating much, much more and much more fatty foods, so why should we be surprised? 'One of the institute's major contributions

to Australia's child health data has been the Raine Study, which has been running continuously for 18 years. The subjects have been measured and analysed since before they were born. Various members of the study meet regularly with Fiona as advisors. From birth right up until 16 and now 18 years of age in the Raine Study, so they get the idea that they're still wanted. It's not like, "Hey..." I think you need to mention, you know, there's 2,000 kids in the study and then they'll be like, "Oh, wow! I'm one of 2,000. This is great." This big social experiment. 'This is the largest study of its kind in the world and it is already indicating critical trends in children's health. As the subjects approach 18, the Raine Study is focussing on the effects of childhood obesity, diabetes and the major social issues

of mental health and depression.' I think it's wonderful. I really think it's a fantastic thing to be involved in.

We're kept up-to-date on what they are finding out. I think it will be good for the future and wellbeing of other people. The World Health Organisation states... ..mental health problems will be... of the biggest global issues by 2020.

And I don't know that any country's doing this well and that's how you tackle things like excessive alcohol in young people,

the effects of substance abuse, the tragedy of mental health problems. Now, they're universal challenges. Worldwide, one in five children... ..between 4 and 18... ..have a mental health problem. 'The Raine Study is emerging as a powerful tool. One of its most important findings is that it has finally proven that what happens during pregnancy affects the future health of the child.' I can't understand why people in the community, why the bureaucrats and the politicians don't keep on asking, "Why is this happening so much

in a society that's so wealthy and that should not have these levels of problems?" Just push it a little bit harder. Come on. Why children are being abused. Why are so many children feeling so depressed that they're suiciding? Why have we suddenly got this obesity epidemic? Why is it that so many kids are doing juvenile crime? We have forgotten how important those nurturing pathways are for children's development. We've forgotten how important children's development is

for national development.

And we have therefore forgotten that the nurturing pathways don't exist without support from the state. ..between 12 and 15 drink alcohol. We can't turn the clock back and say, "Oh, hang on, globalisation's not good for some kids' health, so stop it." Can't do that.

How can we adapt and tell parents how to adapt

or communities or even, you know, nations? How can they adapt to these particular problems so they're not so damaging to children and young people? And I think that's the big picture for us in our research. (GIRL LAUGHS) Because it may be that the big drivers of these poor outcomes are actually not going to be

in those parts that are closest to the child. (SQUEALS AND LAUGHS) The end product of the pathway is that that kid suicides because it's so depressed, because it's so anxious, because it hasn't got proper parental environment at home. In fact, you can put it back to things that are way outside the province of the parent.

I think the biggest challenge with modern life is the stress that we have in our workplace and the amazing increase in mental health problems we're seeing. Because stress doesn't affect just mental health, it affects almost every organ in the body. And so it is very, very important, I think, with modern life,

to think about how we handle stress.

I get rid of my stress just being in places that make me feel good.

I just think it's so unfair. You know, can you imagine, if I'd had a child, one child in my immediate family that had suicided, I would be devastated.

It happens all the time in the Aboriginal - It is a huge change that we're asking for. It's - you can't keep battering away at the wall with a hammer. You know, a hammer and a chisel. That's not what it's about. This is about a bulldozer going in to knock over the poverty that we call the mountain of poverty. I love it.

It's this gap between what we know is so important for the nurturing of young kids - you know, that loving environment, all those things that are going to enhance your life chances. So if you have violence from the time you're born and it's close to you and it's always there, it's about the most negative thing that can happen for child development.

Those are those life stress events you're talking about. Exactly. It is about tolerance and compassion. And it is about all of us saying, "Well, we've got to live together. We've got to share the burden of bringing up our children together and we've got to leave them a part of this planet, Australia, which is something they can be proud of." One thing that I really want to ask you about... This is something that we must address. Now, we must address the rising rates of asthma, obesity, mental health. We must. And we can't just say, as some people have been quoted as saying, "Oh, well, this is just a side product of globalisation" or it's a side product of a modern economy. Sorry, not acceptable.

Not acceptable. 25% of young people feeling so miserable or depressed or anxious or having behaviour problems or drinking or smoking - not acceptable. That means that 25% of your future national capacity might not be able to participate and will be a drain on your budget. Even in economic terms, that's stupid. So I had this sort of image,

sort of little image, when I was about 8 of what I was going to be. I'd already read a little bit about, you know, Albert Schweitzer and sort of a kids' story about Marie Curie and it was that I was going to be a scientist or a doctor or something like that and I would get on a boat and I would sail, sail through turquoise waters

and leap out onto these islands, which were full of needy natives and inject them with polio vaccine and then leap back on the boat again to the next island. So those things were obviously influencing me, this sort of life of pioneering science. But it is interesting what 8-year-olds can think about. Closed Captions by CSI

This program is not subtitled

'Here is a broadcast by Zed Seselja for the Canberra Liberals for the 2008 Australian Capital Territory election.' I'm Zed Seselja, leader of the Canberra Liberals. A key part of being an alternative government is to develop good policies which provide practical solutions.

That's why we've taken the time to consult, to listen, to research and to cost policies which will improve the lives of all Canberrans. We're happy for these policies to be tested, which is why we announced the first of them

six months prior to the election.

One of the most important responsibilities of government is to give Canberrans the opportunity to purchase a home.

That's why the first major announcement I made was a plan to cut stamp duty for first-home buyers. Under our plan, first-home buyers will pay no stamp duty for homes under $500,000. At the moment, they're being forced to pay upwards of $15,000 in tax just for the privilege of buying a home. Our stamp-duty plan, in combination with our plan to streamline land release,

to reform the planning authority and to reintroduce competition into the market will help make the dream of home ownership a reality

once again for Canberrans. Education is critical to the future of Canberra. One of the most important things we can do to improve our education system is to lower class sizes in our primary schools. That's why we've announced a plan to cut class sizes in grades 4, 5 and 6

to a maximum of 21 per class. Currently teachers are being forced to deal with class sizes of up to 28 or 30 students in our later primary-school years. This places a great burden on teachers and means that students don't get the kind of outcomes that they need from our education system. Our plan to reduce class sizes to a maximum of 21 students will make a real difference to teachers and to students and will help ensure that we have a first-class education system into the future. We know that there are many problems in our health system and that there is no easy fix, but that doesn't mean you just throw money at buildings and bureaucracy. One of the things we've been hearing from people is that they simply can't get in to see an after-hours GP. This puts great strain on our already overburdened emergency department. Our plan to have bulk-billing, after-hours GP clinics in the suburbs, in Gungahlin, West Belconnen and Tuggeranong will help take some of the strain from our emergency department and provide the services to people where they need them most. It's not the whole solution but it's a practical solution to a real problem in our community.

CC Hello, and welcome to Foreign Correspondent. I'm Mark Corcoran.

Tonight - the Greeks' magnificent new home for their lost marbles, if they can get them back. And you don't think that the marbles will ever return to Athens? I think it's very unlikely. And shacking up in Manhattan. THEME MUSIC

Two very different stories on urban design and history. First, though, to Athens - a city of ancient marvels. But now there's a new star on the map - the recently completed Acropolis Museum - purpose-built to house the city's treasures. Sculptures from the ancient Parthenon have already been moved there,

away from the pollution and acid rain of the modern world. The Greeks are hoping the new museum will also become home to the other Parthenon statues - those souvenired by the British ambassador Lord Elgin back in the 1800s. Helen Vatsikopoulos travelled to Athens to take up the story.

The Goddess Athena must be seeing red.