Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015

At their meeting on 13 November 2009, the Australian Health Ministers endorsed the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015.

Page last updated: 26 May 2015

The aim of the Strategy is to contribute to improving the health, nutrition and wellbeing of infants and young children, and the health and wellbeing of mothers, by protecting, promoting, supporting and monitoring breastfeeding.

Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy Implementation

Achievements and progress on implementation of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy to date include:
  • Statistics
  • Breastfeeding Friendly Environments
  • Support in Hospitals
  • Education and Training for Health Professionals
  • Support out of hospital
  • Public Education and Awareness
  • Support for Priority Groups
  • Revisiting the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (WHO Code)

Statistics

2010 National Infant Feeding Survey provides national baseline data on infant feeding practices.

Further data and summaries from the survey were published in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2012 Report.

The reporting of breastfeeding results from both the 2010 National Infant Feeding Survey and subsequent Australia’s Health 2012 was based on draft national breastfeeding indicators published by the AIHW in 2011.

Indicators ensure statistics answer the same questions so they can be compared over time and between demographics e.g. states and territories, mothers ages, different cultural backgrounds.

Further work is required on the indicators to ensure they are practical and feasible for: collecting data in clinical settings, designing both national or local surveys and reporting aggregated data at both state and territory, and national levels.

A funding proposal will be considered to: consult with jurisdictions on existing data collecting methods, refine the indicators, and recommend processes for routine local collection of breastfeeding data for use in national and state and territory reporting.

Breastfeeding Friendly Environments


Guidance for child care settings provided through the Get Up and Grow: Healthy eating and physical activity for early childhood resources covers both supporting breastfeeding and appropriate use of infant formula in child care.
  • Brochures for parents are included.
  • Complementary resources adapted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were released in June 2013.
  • Translated versions are available in Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Indonesian, Malaysian, Arabic, Turkish and Spanish.
The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care, National Quality Standard 2.2 - Healthy Eating and Physical includes references to the Get Up & Grow resources, the Dietary Guidelines and support for breastfeeding.

All Australian states and territories have legislative provisions protecting the rights of breastfeeding women, including in relation to employment and breastfeeding in public. In addition to state and territory anti-discrimination laws, amendments to the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 were passed in 2011 establishing breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination.

Support in Hospitals

In November 2012, the Standing Council on Health of the Council of Australian Governments agreed that all Australian jurisdictions support the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) and its ten steps to successful breastfeeding for health services. They encouraged all public and private hospitals to implement the ten steps to successful breastfeeding and to work towards or maintain their BFHI accreditation. A copy of the communiqué is available at Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council Website.

Education and Training for Health Professionals

The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is funded to deliver workforce education and training including sponsorship of the ABA’s annual health professionals seminar series;

The Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand Ltd (LCANZ) have been funded to produce educational resources for lactation consultants and for scholarships for LCANZ members from rural and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or from culturally diverse backgrounds to attend conferences;

Education for health professionals has been provided on the new 2013 Eat for Health: Australian Dietary Guidelines and Infant Feeding Guidelines: Information for Health Workers through a range of avenues including seminars, conference workshops, and Rural Health Education Foundation satellite and digital television episodes; and Online education and training materials have been produced to assist health workers to use the new WHO growth charts for 0-2 year olds effectively. These charts are based on the growth patterns of healthy, breastfed babies.

Breastfeeding and You: A Handbook for Antenatal Educators is intended to contribute to breastfeeding promotion and support in the key antenatal stage, by providing information and resources on breastfeeding and adult learning to antenatal educators, program managers and health professionals who inform and support expectant women, their partners and families.

Community Support Networks

The National Framework for Universal Child and Family Health Services outlines the core services that all Australian children (from birth to eight years) and families should receive at no financial cost to themselves, regardless of where they live, and how and where they access their health care.

The Department of Health also funds the Australia-wide 24-hour Pregnancy, Birth & Baby Helpline 1800 882 436 that provides a coordinated entry point to information and support on pregnancy and the first 12 months of a baby’s life. The helpline also provides direction to maternity related services including specialist and support services such as the Breastfeeding Helpline 1800 686 268.

The national toll-free 24 hour Breastfeeding Helpline has been funded by the Department of Health and Ageing since 2008 to provide breastfeeding information and peer support for mothers and their families. The Helpline receives over 84,000 calls a year. An evaluation of the Breastfeeding Helpline was completed in 2012.

Public Education and Awareness

Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal Care have been developed by the Department of Health and Ageing on behalf of all Australian Governments.

The AHMAC funded guidelines are a priority action under the National Maternity Services Plan.

Module 1 of the guidelines covers the first trimester of pregnancy.

Module 2 covers the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The guidelines recognise the importance of discussing breastfeeding during antenatal visits.

For Commonwealth funded websites with trusted information on parenting topics including breastfeeding. Please visit : Raising Children Network website and Pregnancy Birth and Baby website.

Support for Priority Groups

The Australian Government funds a range of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that address the needs of Indigenous children in their early years, including maternal and child health services and support for breastfeeding. These include: the Healthy for Life Program, New Directions Mothers and Babies Services and the Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program.

Other resources for priority groups include:
Get Up and Grow: Healthy eating and physical activity for early childhood that provide guidance for child care settings and include resources for Indigenous people. Translated versions are also available in Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Indonesian, Malaysian, Arabic, Turkish and Spanish;

A one hour program showcasing the Infant Feeding Guidelines with a focus on rural and Indigenous populations, that was broadcast on the Rural Health Education Foundation (RHEF) and National Indigenous Television channels in June 2013;

The Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal Care, that encourage health professionals to take a woman-centred and culturally safe approach, ensuring that each woman’s social, emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual and cultural needs and expectations are considered and respected. The guidelines recognise the importance of discussing breastfeeding during antenatal visits and providing information and support so that women can make informed decisions; and

An Evaluation Toolkit for Breastfeeding Programs and Projects to assist jurisdictions and local health services in evaluating breastfeeding programs. These evaluations will also assist in identifying successful breastfeeding support programs for priority groups that could be expanded.

Revisiting the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (WHO Code)

The 2013 NHMRC Infant Feeding Guidelines: Information for Health Workers provides guidance for Australian health workers on interpreting the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. This includes advice that Australian health workers should:
  • promote optimal infant feeding by promoting breastfeeding,
  • provide information about infant formula when required and support families who are using infant formula, and
  • understand the intent of the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement (MAIF Agreement) in limiting the marketing of infant formula, particularly in regard to gifts and samples from infant formula companies.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is currently reviewing Standard 2.9.1 – Infant Formula Products and other standards relating to infant formula. This includes composition, labelling and advertising. FSANZ will release a series of consultation and assessment reports for public comment. Further information is available at: Food Standard Australia Newzealand website.

The Department of Health and Ageing commissioned two reviews to help inform future policy development on the WHO Code in the context of Australia’s cultural, policy, legal and economic environment and its priority relative to other work. Information on these reviews and APMAIF in general can be found at: Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (APMAIF).

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