Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 19 October 2016



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 19 October 2016

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Parliamentary Record 1


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




pp 65 to 124


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Wednesday 19 October 2016 117 they deserve. I have two beautiful boys who have been given every opportunity. As the Member for Braitling spoke of yesterday, by the time our children hit five years of age and start school, some are already behind the eight ball and they will never catch up. We need to ensure we support families and children in early childhood development. We plan to address this challenge. Failing to provide the essential building blocks in those critical first five years of life has long-term consequences on our families and our children. Research shows that a childs earliest years provide a window of opportunity to address inequality and improve outcomes in later life. The potential benefits from supporting the early years range from improved growth and development to better schooling outcomes and increased economic participation. If we can help raise the birth weight of a child they will have better outcomes in their life. It is as simple as that. We need to support mothers when they are pregnant and support families through those early years. We also know the environment where a child spends their early years strongly helps shape whether or not they have the foundations for future health, wellbeing and development. This government, through its early childhood strategic plan, aims to promote a good start in life for every Territory child. We aim to do this by strengthening the services and supports available for children, women and families. The focus of early childhood development starts with a strategy from 20 weeks of pregnancy through to five years of age. Our early childhood development strategy will ensure a continuum of coordinated services and programs that will benefit a childs growth and development as well as the communitys economic activity and development. We will develop a more harmonious and coherent society where a healthy child enters adulthood. We will support Territory children right through. Our plan is for all Territory children, not just the children in our major urban centres, but also those thousands of Territory kids born in remote areas each year. This requires a collaborative effort across government, led by the Children and Families cluster. We have the Minister for Children and the Ministers for Education, Territory Families, Police and Housing working alongside me with my portfolio of Health. We are consulting and engaging with key stakeholders, including Aboriginal-controlled health organisations, consumers and non-government health services. In addition, we will develop a child and youth health plan by 2018. We want our children to grow and have a long, satisfying, productive life, supported by their community. Our plan will ensure accessible and ageappropriate healthcare for children and young people, incorporating a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, family, relationships, accommodation and education. To ensure it is relevant, we will take the input from those who are most important: young people and their families. There are some initiatives we can and must embark on while we develop these plans. We know that to improve early childhood development for vulnerable populations we must start with families before a childs birth. The Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program is being operated in the Central Australian region by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, and the preliminary evidence indicates that it is effective in improving outcomes in Indigenous communities, with more positive parent-child interactions, better-quality home environments and reduced post-natal depression. Here we have a strong pathway to making a better start in life for these babies. The Australian Government is supporting the implementation of nurse-family partnerships in the Top End next year, and our government will expand this service further across East Arnhem Land and Central Australia, and the Barkly and Katherine regions. This will be done in partnership with Aboriginal communitycontrolled health services, the non-government sector and the Australian Government. We are updating our robust child health program, Healthy Under 5 Kids, by strengthening the emphasis on partnering with families, and a trial program is being conducted in urban and remote centres. Families are the key to providing good preventative health measures. Parents around Australia hold the childs health record to keep us up to date with the immunisations schedule and a track of the childs development milestones in the vital zero to five years. The current NT child health record, the yellow book, lacks the functionality that other parent-held child health records have. We will update the yellow book and explore electronic capabilities to help families monitor and keep across important health services as they become due to help keep our children healthier and stronger. In other states the book is far more useble. It reminds parents when their child needs