Page 569 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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helped many parents learn and be supported to establish breastfeeding and bonding after birth, when they may have otherwise felt stressed or overwhelmed. We have also heard that by having MACH services co-located in child and family centres, families can access wraparound supports in their local community, from the one location.

But we have also heard about difficulty in accessing some services because, “it only goes for a certain length of time” or “my child is too old or too young to access it” or “there was a distinct lack of communication between one service and another and my family fell through the cracks” or “I don’t like taking my baby to the clinic because if they find something wrong, they might take her away”. We are listening to, and learning from, these experiences and ensuring that the strategy reflects these lessons.

The government’s commitment is to deliver a strategy that sets out actions that are meaningful and deliverable with a system-wide approach to reform. By taking a methodical, detailed and co-design approach, we are identifying key areas that we can begin delivering on, and we have already started. For example, we know that there should be a focus on actions which support health literacy. This has enabled the government to secure funding from the commonwealth to begin delivering on improving health literacy for families, because we have heard through our consultations that when families cannot access this information, it can impact on how they respond to the needs of their children, and this can have knock-on impacts. We also know that we need to support parents and caregivers to bond with their children, to increase resilience and build protective factors which reduce negative childhood experiences, such as domestic and family violence, parental conflict and trauma.

The strategy’s actions will also have a focus on supporting good health and family wellbeing during pregnancy. This means encouraging and enabling positive experiences for families in maternity services and the birthing experience. This will align with the public maternity services strategy that is also currently under development. Actions will also have a focus on supporting parents and caregivers and their children to be connected to the community, build on informal networks, and ensure better linkages with services when required. The service system must be equitable and support families in all their diversity. Services must be safe and there must be culturally appropriate support and services where and when they are needed.

We also need to build capacity in early support services so that we can support people before they reach crisis, assisting them to achieve better outcomes through universal and early support services, rather than waiting until they need crisis or tertiary services, where the impact of services is less effective in improving long-term health and wellbeing. This reimagined service system will aim to provide the foundations for every child to get the best start.

The government is committed to action and genuine change, not a strategy that sits on the shelf. Given the substantial work that has already been done, informed by lived experience, academic expertise and our dedicated service providers, the government has been able to secure specific funding to drive this work forward with a focus on innovation and prevention. To ensure that we are not waiting but continuing to build on our service system, I opened a Healthy Canberra grants round, with a focus on supporting children and families. This grants round has up to $1 million available to

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