Minster Launches Program To Empower New Mothers

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6th November 2009, 07:00pm - Views: 937
Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery


6 November 2009


An innovative home visiting service in Central Australia is helping first time mothers gain confidence and improve their parenting skills.

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery, Warren Snowdon, was in Alice Springs today to launch the Australian Nursing Family Partnership Program (ANFPP), which has been running since April.

He said the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) in Alice Springs is one of the first organisations in the nation to participate in the three-year initiative.

The ANFPP provides home-visiting services for women pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child and will support mothers to improve pregnancy outcomes; improve child health and development; and encourage mothers to develop goals for themselves and their family.

Mr Snowdon said the Congress has 23 active clients in the program and eight babies have been born since the service started.

"Clients are visited regularly by Nurse Home Visitors and Aboriginal Community Workers weekly for the first four weeks of pregnancy, then fortnightly until the baby is born. Visits are then made weekly for the first four weeks after birth, fortnightly until the child is 12 months and then monthly until the child is two years old," Mr Snowdon said.

The concept is based on the US Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) Program, which was
developed over the past 30 years by the University of Colorado.

The US NFP has achieved success in improving birth weight; reducing maternal smoking; reducing childhood injuries and reports of child abuse and neglect; fewer subsequent pregnancies and increasing intervals between births; increasing use of community services and maternal employment and improving school readiness.

Minister Snowdon said there's already anecdotal evidence that building relationships with parents is achieving success at the Congress.

"First time mothers, some of whom are just 15 and lacking in experience, are feeling a sense of empowerment. The program gives them a better understanding of their pregnancy and better prepares them for it so they feel confident in the process.

"It also links new mothers to community services. With this new support, a number of mothers have requested anger management and counselling," Mr Snowdon said.

Mr Snowdon said actively investing in early childhood programs like this will help improve the health and wellbeing of children and Central Australian families, now and in the future.

The program is of three Indigenous-specific health programs funded by the Department of Health and Ageing targeting maternal and child health.

"These programs are integral to the Rudd Government's `Closing the Gap' agenda and the COAG National Indigenous Reform Strategy," Minister Snowdon said.

Media contact:

Alice Plate,
Media Adviser,
0400 045 999

Leshay Maidmant,
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress,
08 8953 2727

SOURCE: Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery
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