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A better start to life for Indigenous children

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19 June 2014

A Better Start to Life for Indigenous Children

The Australian Government Better Start to Life approach targets the health of Indigenous mothers and babies so children are given the best possible start to life.

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash said; “Through the $94 million investment in Better Start to Life the Government will expand efforts in child and maternal health to support Indigenous children to be healthy and go to school”.

“The Government is committed to closing the gap by ending the cycle of disadvantage which starts with poor child health,” Minister Nash said.

“Focussing on the critical early years means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will get a positive foundation for life.”

As Minister Nash outlined in Senate question time today, The Better Start to Life investment in the 2014-15 Budget will commence from July 2015. It will include:  $54 million to increase the number of sites providing New Directions: Mothers and Babies services from 85 to 137; and

 $40 million to expand the evidence-based Australian Nurse Family Partnership (ANFP) approach to increase support for high needs families.

The New Directions programme will be expanded through identifying and targeting funding to areas of need in order to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families’ access to:  antenatal care;  practical advice and assistance with breastfeeding, nutrition and parenting;

monitoring developmental milestones;  immunisation status and infections; and  to undertake health checks for Indigenous children before starting school.

The ANFP will also target areas of high need and disadvantage and aims to improve prenatal health, child health and development, and parenting skills.

The Better Start to Life approach demonstrates the Australian Government’s commitment to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage, particularly in the first five years of life.

“Better Start to Life funding is targeted at delivering long term improvements in health, education and employment for Indigenous Australians,” Minister Nash said.

Minister's media contact: Carolyn Martin, 0417 966 328