The first one thousand days of life are integral to a child’s development and overall health and wellbeing, but not all children are getting the best chance to thrive in this critical period.
Recent studies have shown that if a child is born with a low birthweight, they will have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, intellectual and developmental disabilities and obesity during their lifetime.
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) has commissioned Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) to co-design, implement and evaluate new approaches to support pregnant women and families in Melton South.
This approach led by MCRI will be supported through the following partnerships:
- Djerriwarrh Health Services will provide pregnancy and early postnatal care.
- Melton City Council’s maternal child health services will provide early childhood health care and parenting support.
- VICSEG New Futures will support bicultural staff and community engagement.
- Foundation House will provide professional development and mentoring to support health professionals to provide trauma-informed care.
The collaborative work will include two components: a focus on equity-oriented maternity and early childhood health services using a trauma and violence informed framework, and Group Pregnancy Care for women of refugee backgrounds.
A midwife and maternal and child health nurse will act as program champions to support the workforce to implement the initiative and foster sustainable organisational and practice change.
The collaboration will aim to reorient maternity and early childhood health care to respond to health inequities, enhance access to culturally safe care and enable community engagement in the co-design of healthcare and program evaluation.
Melton South is an increasingly diverse area, with a high proportion of refugee and migrant families moving into the area who are likely to experience social disadvantage and multiple barriers to maternity and early childhood health care.
The overall goal of the initiative is to improve access and engagement with care to reduce low birth weight babies, giving children the best start to life.
NWMPHN looks forward to working with MCRI to implement this much needed approach to family, maternal, infant and child health care.