News: A better start to life

A highly successful mothers and babies health program is now available in three communities in the Barkly

Posted: Monday, 30 July 2018

The Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt AM has announced that a highly successful nation-wide mothers and babies health program is now available in Tennant Creek, Ali Curung and Alpurrurulam (Lake Nash).

This is part of the national expansion of the service to help build stronger, healthier and more resilient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

The new sites for the Barkly region are:
Tennant Creek (Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation)
Ali Curung (NT Department of Health)
Alpurrurulam (NT Department of Health)

Council Mayor Steve Edgington said it is pleasing to see that the Barkly region has been chosen to be a site for the Australian Government's New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services Program.

The New Directions program targets five priority areas, including:

  • Care of mothers before and immediately after birth;
  • Detailed information about baby care
  • Practical parenting, breast-feeding and nutrition assistance
  • Monitoring children’s development, immunisations and infections; and
  • Health checks and treatment referrals before children start school.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study in 2014 showed that families participating in the New Directions program registered improvements in seven out of the eight national Key Performance Indicators on maternal and child health.

“Mothers participating in Better Start to Life have fewer low birth weight babies, higher rates of breastfeeding and very high infant immunisation rates,” said Minister Wyatt.

“We are also seeing women accessing antenatal care earlier in their pregnancies.

“We know that the time from conception through the early years of a child’s life is absolutely critical for their future health and we want to ensure all of our children are given the best opportunities to flourish and thrive.” 

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