Supporting Child And Maternal Health

To make a difference in the long-term, we need to start early in providing the health care that all Australians deserve throughout their lives.

Page last updated: 13 May 2008

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13 May 2008

There is nothing more important to the future of the nation than the health of our children.

To make a difference in the long-term, we need to start early in providing the health care that all Australians deserve throughout their lives.

This Government will improve the health and wellbeing of our children by helping children and their parents learn about the importance of diet and nutrition and preparing them to make healthy choices for life, as well as improving maternal health. There are also a number of Government initiatives focused on Indigenous early childhood health.

  • Child Health – health check for four year old children
The Government will invest $25.6 million over four years to ensure all four year olds get a health check, starting in 2008.

The checks will help ensure all Aussie kids are healthy and ready to learn. The health check will be a basic check-up of a child’s height, fitness, eyesight and hearing. It will be conducted by GPs, practice nurses and other immunisation providers.

The checks will promote early detection of chronic disease risk factors, delayed development and illness and deliver healthier Aussie kids. It is expected that up to 250,000 health checks for four year old children could be provided each year.

At the same time as the checks, parents and carers will receive a Healthy Habits for Life Guide to help their children develop healthy habits, and set them along a healthy path for life.
  • Preventative Health – Healthy Guidelines for Early Childhood Obesity Reduction
The Government will invest $4.5 million over five years beginning in 2007-08 in developing guidelines on nutrition and physical activity to help child care services and preschools provide the high quality care our children deserve.
  • Child Health – Kitchen Garden Program
The Government will invest $12.8 million over four years to fund the establishment of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Gardens program in 190 schools nationally, building on the success of the program in Victoria.

The aim is to teach children about growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing healthy food – to help them develop healthy life-long habits, and stay healthy well into the future.

One-off funding of up to $60,000 per school will be provided to help fit out kitchens and gardens. Central demonstration schools will be established in each State and Territory.
  • $85 Million National Plan for Perinatal Depression
Around one in 10 Australian women experience depression during pregnancy, and almost one in five experience it in the weeks and months after giving birth.

The $85 million Perinatal Depression – national plan, comprising $55 million from the Commonwealth and $30 million to be sought from the States and Territories, encourages routine screening for women during pregnancy and in the first year after birth. This will be supported by appropriate training for healthcare professionals and appropriate care to ensure that women get the help and support they need.
  • Support for breastfeeding mums
The Government is providing $2.5 million over five years to expand the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s helpline to a national toll-free 24 hour service. Breastfeeding has a protective effect against a number of health risks, including gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections in babies and obesity in later life.

The helpline is expected to be operating nationally by December 2008.

Exclusive breastfeeding to six months of age is recommended by the World Health Organization and the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia.

Media inquiries only: Sean Kelly – 0417 108 362
For all other inquiries please contact the Minister's office – 02 6277 7220