Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015

5.1 Introduction

Page last updated: 15 July 2010

The aim of this Australian National Breastfeeding 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. It provides a framework for priorities and action for Australian governments at all levels to address the protection, promotion, monitoring and support of breastfeeding in the community.

The Australian and state and territory governments have a range of breastfeeding activities in place. Responsibilities are shared between various levels of government, non-government organisations and the private health sector. This Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy now seeks to achieve greater coordination and integration of breastfeeding efforts across Australia.
The Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy complements the Australian Dietary Guidelines and reflects Australia’s support for international organisations and frameworks. It is important to protect, promote and support breastfeeding at a population level and for those members of the community who are vulnerable to social and health disadvantage. Despite these considerations, about half of Australian babies are not receiving any breast milk by the time they reach six months of age.

A large body of Australian and international evidence shows that breastfeeding provides significant value to infants, mothers and society. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing inquiry into the health benefits of breastfeeding was a significant catalyst for the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy. The evidence informing the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy was drawn from a range of sources including systematic reviews, peer reviewed journals and documented expert opinion from sources such as The Best Start report. The high level themes emerging from the review of evidence included the need for continuity of care, the importance of combination or multifaceted approaches and providing promotion and support at multiple stages before and after birth.

A number of complex issues remain on the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy agenda but do not lend themselves to immediate solutions. These issues will be thoroughly addressed as the implementation plan is developed and enacted under the recommended governance structure.

The Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy was developed in an environment of national health reform and it complements the health reform agenda and will inform the development of the National Maternity Services Plan.