A healthy start to life builds resilience and enables children to reach their full potential.
Pre-natal, post-natal and early childhood factors are critical to brain development and future health and wellbeing. Good maternal health in pregnancy can lower or eliminate the risk of numerous preventable diseases and disabilities, while actions during the early years can reduce later risks of diabetes, learning difficulties, mental health problems and contact with the justice system.
The State Government will refocus government-funded services to support a better start in life for Aboriginal children in regional and remote areas, and reduce the risk of higher-cost interventions in adulthood. It will consult in key locations with communities about the willingness to trail a community-level approach to prenatal, postnatal and early childhood development.
Key aspects of an effective early childhood model for Aboriginal children in regional and remote areas would include:
- culturally-secure perinatal health services that support preconception health and healthy behaviours for mothers during and post pregnancy
- community-based knowledge sharing about initial child-rearing practices that are essential for infant and child health and ongoing early childhood education activities
- safe, healthy environments across the community
- early childhood health checks and services that are accessible and encourage participation
- family-based support for positive behaviours such as good nutrition, education attendance and physical activity.
A community-level approach to prenatal, postnatal and early childhood development could involve:
- embracing community co-design and retaining local-level ownership and control
- engaging Aboriginal women’s groups on how to improve community knowledge sharing
- working with those groups, service providers and researchers on models to improve service provision and collaboration.