Improving low birth-weight outcomes in Melton South


June 2020 - March 2024

Funding Amount:




Melbourne Macedon Ranges Yarra Moonee Valley Darebin Maribyrnong Hobsons Bay Wyndham Brimbank Moorabool Melton Hume Merri-bek


Strong Families Strong Babies: equity-oriented maternity and early childhood health care to support and improve low birth weight outcomes for families residing in Melton South.

The Strong Families Strong Babies project seeks to reorient maternity and early childhood health care to address the social determinants of health known to contribute to low birth weight. This activity is seen in the context of improving outcomes for children in the first 1000 days – that is, the period from conception to the end of the child’s second year.

Since June 2020, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and project partners have worked to co-design and deliver whole-of-service practice change initiatives for maternity health care workers using the Plan Do Study Act method. Activities have included health care provider training around maternal child telehealth interventions, trauma-informed health care, and groupwork training.

Further to this, community consultation has informed the design of a planned pregnancy care services group to target the unique needs of the communities of India who reside in Melton South preparing for parenthood. Service delivery will commence in May 2022.


This project was started in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite significant implementation challenges arising from this, it has achieved several outcomes, including:

  • Program Champions (midwife and MCH nurse) were appointed in early 2021.
  • A Partnership Working Group was established to bring together representatives of all project partners to support service integration and co-design processes.
  • Appointing two community researchers and commencing consultation with communities of Burma (Chin, Karen) and communities of India.
  • Initial co-design and planning for the establishment of Group Pregnancy Care took place in July 2021. Service delivery is planned for commencement by mid-May 2022.
  • Consultation and professional development initiatives with Maternal and Child Health (MCH) nurses began in October 2021. Tailored professional development opportunities have been delivered through project partners Foundation House for universal and enhanced MCH nurses. Topics of this training included refugee experiences, trauma-informed and culturally safe approaches to care including when working with interpreters, and telehealth in pregnancy and early childhood health care.

Services involved