Funding boost for First 1000 Days Australia

A model that gives Indigenous families who are expecting or have recently had babies a say in their health care has received a funding boost.

Indigenous baby The NHMRC will fund three research projects so that First 1000 Days Australia can better target and improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-natal and infant health.

First 1000 Days Australia is an adaptation of the international First 1,000 Days movement, which focusses on nutrition during pregnancy and in the first two years of life.

The program is based in the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Health Equity Unit, which is part of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

It collaborates with health and community Indigenous organisations to take a more holistic approach.

As well as nutrition, the evidence-based program focuses on education, support services, housing and cultural factors in families from pre-conception until their children turn two.

Head of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health’s Indigenous Health Equity Unit and First 1000 Days Australia Executive Director, Professor Kerry Arabena, says this crucial period offers a unique opportunity to shape healthier and more prosperous futures.

She says Indigenous health needs to be reframed in a way that maximises the input users have into the services they use.

“We are delighted to be working with such a varied range of talented partners, who bring considerable expertise to the task of supporting our families achieve health and wellbeing through the implementation of regionally developed models,” she says.

Pilot studies have already engaged peer researchers to ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families what they need to improve maternal and infant health.

The new, larger projects will include a longitudinal study, a household study and focus groups.

The NHMRC money is a partnership grant that also involves research partners SNAICCCEISave the Children, Kinaway, Aboriginal Housing VictoriaQueensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak and the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

First 1000 Days Australia believes that the family is the primary and preferred option for developing and protecting culture and identity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Its multigenerational approach involves co-operation between Elders, researchers, community members, front-line workers and policy makers. The work is guided by a First 1000 Days Australia Council with representatives from these groups.