Territory Stories

Rebuilding family life in Alice Springs and Central Australia: the social and community dimensions of change for our people



Rebuilding family life in Alice Springs and Central Australia: the social and community dimensions of change for our people


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




Central Australia


This paper has been released by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress as a constructive contribution to the debate on the social crisis facing Alice Springs and Central Australia. It presents powerful ideas as well as concrete strategies for change that we believe can make a real difference for our people. This papers describes a number of approaches and programs that are already in place in a limited way here in Alice Springs. - Foreword; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


"Foreword by Helen Kantawara and Stephanie Bell"

Table of contents

Income inequality, low social status and self esteem and the social problems in Alice Springs -- 3. Empowerment and greater control: a Central Australian Family Responsibility Commission -- 4. Early Childhood programs, education attainment, employment and health -- 5. Supported accommodation services and public housing availability in the Alice Springs town area -- 6. Ensure that all primary health care services throughout Central Australia have a Social and Emotional Well-Being Program that includes a Targeted Family Support Service and an Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Program -- 7. Youth Services -- 8. Alcohol Supply Reduction -- 9. Stop the Violence Campaign -- 10. Adult Literacy Campaign.




Stop the violence campaign; School attendance; Education; Mental health; Government policy

Publisher name

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Place of publication

Alice Springs


47 pages : chiefly colour illustrations ; 30cm.

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20 4.1 Universal Nurse led Home Visitation A key role of the primary health care system is to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to be able to enrol in pre school and school to support the optimal level of brain development. Nurse home visitation beginning prior to 28 weeks in pregnancy is synergistic with antenatal care in terms of addressing key preventable causes of low birth weight babies. It is synergistic with educational day care (discussed in the next section) in terms of promoting optimal brain development in disadvantaged children. All Aboriginal women need to access home visitation wherever they live in the NT. The Olds Nurse Family partnership program of home visitation is now part of Congress and includes three key goals: 1. Improve pregnancy outcomes 2. Improve child health and development 3. Improve parents economic self sufficiency There have been three randomised controlled trials of the effectiveness of this program, all done amongst low income socially disadvantaged families in rural and semi rural settings (Olds 1986, 1997, 1998). These studies were all done in high risk neighbourhoods and families where there was unemployment, no decent housing, violent crime, unsafe play areas and no sources of healthy food. Nurses have been shown to be the most effective home visitors and we have accepted this in the Congress program adapted to include Aboriginal community workers alongside the nurses. There is very good evidence from randomised controlled trials of the effectiveness of nurse home visitation in preventing child abuse and neglect, again with increasing effect against the social gradient. No other program has such a strong evidence base and this evidence has been available for a long time. However, long term follow up with children who received the program to age 15 years has shown that this program can prevent a significant proportion of the problems that Alice Springs is experiencing with some young people. Outcomes from the trials included: Improvements in womens prenatal health and dramatic reduction in arrests, convictions and jail Reductions in child abuse, mortality and childrens injuries Fewer subsequent pregnancies and greater intervals between births Increases in fathers involvement Increases in employment and reductions in welfare dependency Improvements in school outcomes 50% less addictions, sexual partners and a healthier lifestyle at age 15 The results have been achieved in areas that are of major concern in Aboriginal communities throughout the Northern Territory, including Alice Springs. They are outcomes that help to reverse the social gradient in a political climate where government policies for equity are few and far between. Although greater equity and more action by government to address the social determinants of health are urgently needed, the home visitation program can have an impact here and now in spite of an unequal social environment. The program will also have a significant impact on the primary prevention of the mid life chronic disease epidemic through the promotion of emotionally balanced young people, with fewer addictions and a healthier lifestyle. This is critical to our attempts to close the life expectancy gap for our people

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