Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015

5.5 Research and evaluation

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.

Page last updated: 15 July 2010

The development of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy has raised the need for a national approach to monitoring and coordinating research into breastfeeding in Australia, both at the population level and through clinical studies. Currently research activities are funded and conducted in a piecemeal way, which increases the risk of duplication of effort across research agencies or jurisdictions, and limits the capacity of researchers to undertake collaborative projects, particularly on a national level. The lack of national leadership for monitoring and coordinating breastfeeding research makes it harder to raise awareness of current data gaps and the need for ongoing research funding for developing or evaluating activities to promote breastfeeding.

The release of this Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy in the current environment of national health reform presents an opportunity to create new linkages between breastfeeding promotion and research, and other preventive health promotion and research activities. The implementation plan for the National Breastfeeding Strategy should map these opportunities to ensure it acts as a framework for further monitoring, research and evaluation activities.

Very few breastfeeding activities and programs are formally evaluated in Australia. Several states have plans to evaluate some programs going forward. For example the Australian Capital Territory is planning to pilot and evaluate a newly developed training package for staff working in childcare centres. A New South Wales Aboriginal Breastfeeding Project has also been established with the objective of conducting qualitative research that will be used to inform the development of appropriate interventions for the promotion and support of breastfeeding in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy will provide a context for measuring success of breastfeeding programs against stated goals and objectives. New governance arrangements will provide opportunities for the outcomes of evaluations to be shared between jurisdictions to inform future policy and program development.