NACCHO Media Release: Invest more in Aboriginal health programs that work, say Aboriginal health services

12 December 2014

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The health of Aboriginal mothers and their children is improving in all areas under the New Directions program, yet service providers are having to turn people away, highlighting more investment is needed in these successful programs said the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said today.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services released today has found improvements in all the indicators of good maternal and child health.

“The New Directions program, many run by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, provides support for mothers and their children right through from antenatal care to immunisation and health and health checks for children before starting school,” said NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs.

“It’s working. Mothers are seeking antenatal care earlier, recording higher birth weights, and getting better outcomes on health assessments for both children and their mothers.

“Another fantastic outcome we see is that the number of children under four years taking health assessments has doubled.

“This program is an excellent example of a program which is working.”

Ms Biggs said a survey of the service providers of this program found that more than half reported difficulty in meeting demand.

“Now that we know for sure that this program is working and achieving excellent outcomes for mothers and babies, we need to invest more to make sure that as many people benefit from the program as possible.

“This is not just about funding but also in making sure we have enough Aboriginal health workers trained up to help meet the demand.

“Government reviews like the Forrest Report into employment and training are telling us that investment in prenatal and early childhood are critical if we are to improve education and employment outcomes.

“If we are going to close the gap on Aboriginal health we need a continued focus and commitment to evidence-based programs like this one from all levels of government.

“A child’s earliest years are crucial if we want to make sure they get through school and find a pathway for a real job down the track. Programs like these which address disadvantage early on will directly improve education and employment outcomes in the long run. “

The New Directions program is currently delivered through over 80 sites across Australia, 50 in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

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