Tailored First 1000 Days support for Queensland children

Published Friday, 02 September, 2016 at 08:53 AM

Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

The Palaszczuk Government is joining forces with the University of Melbourne to ensure a better start to life for some of Queensland’s most vulnerable children.

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the Palaszczuk Government will invest $1.5 million over three years to partner with the university to introduce the First 1000 Days initiative to Queensland and improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children and families.

Ms Fentiman, who made the announcement at the Child Protection Week Awards, said the growth and development that occurred during the very early years of a child’s life is critical to life outcomes.

“We know providing extra support for the first 1000 days of a child’s life – from conception until their second birthday – can vastly improve life outcomes for children,” Ms Fentiman said.

“I am very excited by the potential of this program, which will be trialled at two sites in Queensland.”

Ms Fentiman said the Queensland model would expand upon the health and nutrition foundation seen in other countries and in Victoria, to take a broader approach to addressing disadvantage.

“This means providing comprehensive and coordinated services that address family violence, unemployment, substance misuse, mental illness and disability,” she said.

“We know this type of early intervention can make all the difference in keeping families living safely together by allowing us to identify vulnerable women early and work with them during their pregnancy and the early years of their children’s lives.”

Micah Projects CEO Karyn Walsh said there was clear evidence that investing in the early years of a child’s life strengthened families and ensured children get a healthy start in life.

“It is great to see the government embracing the evidence and partner with Melbourne University to address the number of babies and toddlers who are being disconnected from family through a focus on the first 1000 days of life,” Ms Walsh said.

“The investment will not only provide greater connection today but the evidence tells us that the benefits will go beyond today by enhancing children’s development, readiness for school and a child’s life into the future.”

Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) CEO Natalie Lewis said she was encouraged by the First 1000 Days initiative.

“There is the potential for the First 1000 Days model to make such a powerful positive impact on the futures of our children and families,” Ms Lewis said.

“But secondly because it shows us that the Minister has listened to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and trusts in the strength and knowledge of our people to develop solutions and lead the change that we all aspire to.”

Ms Fentiman said the locations of the two trial sites was to be confirmed.

Media Contact:

Minister Fentiman:                           0400 774 303

Micah Projects:                                 0413 619 785