Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Protecting Australia’s Children: Using the First 1000 Days to build health and wellbeing in families and communities. (#6)

Kerry Arabena 1
  1. University Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Studies have shown that parental drug and alcohol use and family violence are major contributors to infant removal from Indigenous families into institutional care. These children are subject to poorer health and cognitive development. While family violence during early life is well recognised as causing emotional distress, trauma, delayed language and poor verbal abilities, impaired cognitive functioning, disrupted attachment, sleep disturbances, and aggressive behaviour, the future health and wellbeing of children of Indigenous families cannot be addressed without taking a broader, holistic and cultural view of family violence.

Globally, the 1000 Days movement combines evidence-based medical care and social support to reduce undernutrition. The Australian Model of the First 1000 Days has broadened this remit to include a broader, holistic and cultural view of health and wellbeing to include family violence. This Indigenous-led Model includes: strong community governance processes; interventions focussing on the family environment including family violence, increasing antenatal and early year’s engagement, service use and provision and embedded data collection to build a robust evidence base.

The Australian interpretation of the 1000 Days movement is being established to have effective supports for families of Indigenous children during critical periods of heightened risk and will seek to enhance the relationships between children and parents by taking a case management approach from (pre)conception to the age of two years. The broader articulation of the 1000 Days to include the family environment means families will be the locus of nation building and the centre of raising resilient and confident Indigenous children.