The largest survey ever undertaken of Aboriginal children and families has thrown new light on why most existing intervention programs are failing to produce results needed// for overcoming the present levels of Indigenous disadvantage.
The finding is contained in the fourth volume of results from the Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey, launched in Perth today.
The survey, undertaken by researchers at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, analysed data from more than 5000 children in 2000 families across Western Australia.
Chief Investigator Professor Steve Zubrick said the report "Strengthening the Capacity of Aboriginal Children, Families and Communities" unpacked the reasons why there had been little or no improvement in the health and well-being of Aboriginal children despite a large number of intervention programs.
"What these results clearly show is the successive failure of programs that are simply delivered too little, too late," Professor Zubrick said.
"The programs generally start too late in the child’s development, are delivered for only a short time and are often too broadly targeted to have sustainable impact.
"What's desperately needed is high quality, high frequency early intervention programs that directly increase the capacity of Aboriginal parents and others caring for children – teaching them how to prepare their very young children so that when they start at school, they are ready and able to match it with other children."
Professor Zubrick said that only an intense focus in the early years could begin to break the inter-generational cycle of disadvantage.
"There are just 1800 Aboriginal babies born in WA each year – that makes targeted ‘head-start’ programs to help them onto a strong path for life, a very practical and viable investment."
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