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Growing up strong and deadly: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood health roundtable

Forty-eight people attended the roundtable on 10 November 2014, in Melbourne. Participants included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and mainstream service providers, peak bodies, government departments of health and education, and researchers.  


The principal aim of the roundtable was to identify research priorities to strengthen the evidence base that is needed to support early childhood development programs and approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

Themes that guided discussion

  1. Early childhood development programs: in determining what works, what are the critical aspects of early childhood interventions that need to be measured to produce evidence that is credible and meaningful to users (communities), funders and practitioners?
  2. Integrated approaches to early childhood development programs – what’s working well, and what do we know doesn’t work: What are the elements of best practice? What are the specific factors relevant to integrated approaches in urban areas?
  3. Build cultural competence in early childhood: Specifically, how to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and build cultural competence in early childhood work, including: formal education curriculum; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce development, particularly around supporting local skills and training
  4. Health promotion: Starting off strong and staying strong. Giving children the best possible start in their development by: promoting preconception health and knowledge to young people; increasing access to antenatal care, health education and services.
Reference group members:
  • Paul Gray – Senior Project Officer, Department of Family & Community Services, NSW
  • Roxanne Bainbridge – Senior Research Fellow, the Cairns Institute, James Cook University
  • Dianne Jackson – Chief Executive Officer, the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth (with special thanks to Charlene Smith)
  • Frank Hytten – Chief Executive Officer, Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (with special thanks to John Burton)
  • Annie Dullow – Director Early Childhood Section, Indigenous and Rural Health Division, Australian Department of Health
  • Glenn Pearson – Manager Aboriginal Research Development, Telethon Kids Institute
  • John Boffa – Chief Medical Officer Public Health Division, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
  • Jenny Brands – Research and Translation Coordinator, Menzies School of Health Research/ Lowitja Institute Research Leadership
  • Kim O’Donnell – Research Associate, Flinders University/ Lowitja Institute Research Leadership
Report, presentations and related materials
  • Adele Cox – Senior Consultant, the National Empowerment Project
Created: 17 March 2015 - Updated: 20 September 2018