The Australian Model of the First 1000 Days: Indigenous Peoples leading the development and implementation of the First 1000 Days


Despite Australia’s prosperity, early intervention supports are not always available or accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies and families during times of vulnerability. As a result, infants born to families during at-risk periods can be subject to poor health and cognitive development.  This can have life-long implications that impact the individual, family, community and society. The First 1000 Days Australia model is built on Indigenous methodologies, a recognition of the centrality of culture that reinforces and strengthens families, and uses a holistic view of health and wellbeing. The method links early life researchers, research institutions, policy makers, professional associations and human rights activists with Indigenous service delivery, representative organizations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The process broadened the international concept of the First 1000 Days beyond maternal and infant nutrition to include pre-conception, and combines population level approaches, political and advocacy experience, capacity building and knowledge exchange to provide an improved understanding of systemic, regulatory and governance mechanisms needed for more equitable health outcomes in Australia and the world.


Dr Rebecca Ritte is an epidemiological Research Fellow at the Indigenous Health Equity Unit at the University of Melbourne. She completed a Doctorate in Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany and has over five years of experience focusing on chronic disease outcomes and child mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Rebecca works with Professor Kerry Arabena on the First 1000 Days Australia. She has worked on projects that have included data linkage, longitudinal studies ranging from chronic kidney disease and childhood mortality, with collaborative teams across Australia and in Europe.


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