22 January 2015 | General Interest
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has highlighted the need for more service providers and increased access for families, following the release of a report analysing child and maternal health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
The report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services, has found that there were improvements in all the indicators related to good maternal and child health care processes for organisations implementing the New Directions program.
NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs welcomed the report as confirmation that the New Directions program was working for mothers, children and families.
“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,” Ms Briggs said.
“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.”
A survey of service providers delivering the program found that over half reporting 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,” Ms Briggs said.
“This is not just about funding but also in making sure we have enough Aboriginal health workers trained up to help meet the demand.”
The New Directions program is currently delivered through over 80 sites across Australia, with well over more than half of those Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
“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,” Ms Briggs said.
“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.”