Policy

pattern

Maternal and early childhood health and development

Significant gains have been made in maternal and early childhood health and development, including kindergarten enrolments and infant health. However, Aboriginal children continue to be over-represented in the child protection and out-of-home care systems.

Headline indicator 1: Improve Aboriginal infant survival and health

Target: By 2023, close the gap in the perinatal mortality rate.

This target is on track.

In 2014-16, the perinatal mortality rate was the lowest recorded for Aboriginal mothers and was on par for Aboriginal and non?Aboriginal mothers (9.0 per 1,000 births for Aboriginal mothers and 9.1 per 1,000 births for non?Aboriginal mothers).

While rates can vary significantly from year to year due to the small numbers, data since 2007-08 has shown a consistent decrease in perinatal mortality rates for babies of Aboriginal mothers, from
21.2 per 1,000 in 2007-08 to 9.0 per 1,000 in 2014-16.

In 2014 16, the perinatal mortality rate was the lowest recorded for Aboriginal mothers and was on par for Aboriginal and non Aboriginal mothers (9.0 per 1,000 births for Aboriginal mothers and 9.1 per 1,000 births for non Aboriginal mothers).

 

Target: By 2023, close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal babies with a birth weight below 2,500 grams.

This target is on track.

In Victoria, the rate of babies of Aboriginal mothers born with low birth weight has dropped to the lowest rate recorded, from 14.2% in 2007-08 to 9.9% in 2015-16.

Babies of Aboriginal mothers are still twice as likely to be born with low birth weight than babies of non-Aboriginal mothers, but the gap between babies of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal mothers is narrowing.

Over this period the gap between the birth weight of babies of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal mothers has almost halved, from 8.2 percentage points in 2007-08 to 4.9 percentage points in 2015-16.

In Victoria, the rate of babies of Aboriginal mothers born with low birth weight has dropped to the lowest rate recorded, from 14.2% in 2007-08 to 9.9% in 2015-16.

Headline indicator 2: Increase Aboriginal kindergarten participation

Target: By 2014, the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal four-year-old children having access to a high quality kindergarten program will be closed.

This target is on track.

Aboriginal participation rates in kindergarten in the year before school have increased steadily in recent years. In 2017, 94% of Aboriginal children were enrolled in kindergarten in the year before school, on par with all Victorian children (93.4%).

Between 2008 and 2017 there has been a significant increase in the proportion of Aboriginal children participating in kindergarten in the year before school, from 62% in 2008 to 94% in 2017.

Aboriginal participation rates in kindergarten in the year before school have increased steadily in recent years. In 2017, 94% of Aboriginal children were enrolled in kindergarten in the year before school, on par with all Victorian children (93.4%).

Headline indicator 3: Reduce the rate of Aboriginal child protection substantiations

Target: By 2023, the gap in the rate of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal child protection substantiations will be reduced by 75%.

This target is not on track.

Aboriginal children and young people remain over-represented in child protection substantiations and out-of-home care.

In 2016-17, child protection substantiations for Aboriginal children were 8.5 times higher than for non-Aboriginal children. From 2007-08 to 2016-17, the number of child protection substantiations almost tripled, from 681 to 1,858 Aboriginal children.

The over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in Victoria has continued to increase, from 71.5 per 1,000 children in 2015 to 95.9 per 1,000 children in 2017. As at 2017, almost 1 in 10 Aboriginal children were in out-of-home care in Victoria.

In 2016-17, child protection substantiations for Aboriginal children were 8.5 times higher than for non Aboriginal children. From 2007-08 to 2016-17, the number of child protection substantiations almost tripled, from 681 to 1,858 Aboriginal children.

Other measures

Measure: The proportion of Aboriginal children attending Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services at key age milestones.

A higher number and proportion of Aboriginal children are attending key age milestone visits, and the gap in attendance at MCH services at every key age milestone between Aboriginal children and all Victorian children is narrowing. However, Aboriginal children still attend key age consultations at a lower rate than all Victorian children at every key age milestone.

In 2016-17, 96.5% of all Victorian children attended their 2 Weeks Consultation, compared to 90.8% of Aboriginal children. For Aboriginal children, this was up from 85.6% attending their 2 Weeks Consultation in 2014-15.

Koori Maternity Services (KMS) deliver culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal women and babies at 14 sites across Victoria. KMS are working to ensure that more Aboriginal women and babies access maternal and child health services and are healthy and happy.

In 2016-17, 96.5% of all Victorian children attended their 2 Weeks Consultation, compared to 90.8% of Aboriginal children. For Aboriginal children, this was up from 85.6% attending their 2 Weeks Consultation in 2014-15.

Measure: The rate of reported smoking use in pregnancy by the mothers of Aboriginal babies.

In 2016, the rate of smoking during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy was 4.5 times higher for Aboriginal mothers than non-Aboriginal mothers.

The rate of smoking has reduced slightly in recent years, from 40.2% in 2009 to 36.9% in 2016.

The rate of smoking has reduced slightly in recent years, from 40.2% in 2009 to 36.9% in 2016.

Victorian Government reform

The early years of a child’s life are critical. The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring that Aboriginal families are strong and supported, and Aboriginal children are safe, healthy and connected to their culture.

Through the Education State reform agenda, including the Early Childhood Reform Plan and Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026, the Victorian Government is working to create culturally appropriate, high quality early childhood education and maternal and child health services. This will be done in close partnership with the Victorian Government’s principal partner in Aboriginal education, the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) and other Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).

Wungurilwil Gapgapduir: Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement, is a shared commitment between government, the Aboriginal community and the child and family service sector to work towards a future where all Aboriginal children and young people are safe and living in culturally rich Aboriginal families and communities.

Wungurilwil Gapgapduir follows the Department of Health and Human Services’ release of Korin Korin Balit-Djak: Aboriginal health, wellbeing and safety strategic plan 2017-2027, which serves as a 10-year plan to work alongside Aboriginal communities towards a better and fairer future for Aboriginal people. 

2018 also saw the Victorian Government continue its commitment to gradually transitioning care and care management of Aboriginal children from government and non-Aboriginal organisations to ACCOs. Implementation of the Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program has also continued, which involves ACCOs undertaking case planning and case management for children and young people subject to Children's Court protection orders.

These initiatives are being developed and delivered in partnerships between the Victorian Government and Victorian Aboriginal communities, including through the Aboriginal Children’s Forum.