First 1,000 Days movement

The internationally recognised 1,000 Days movement was established to improve maternal and infant nutrition from a child’s conception through to their second birthday. With a focus on reducing malnutrition – now well recognised as causing irreversible damage to a child’s neurological, immune and physical development – as well as maternal anaemia during the first 1000 days, the movement combines evidence-based medical care and social support to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Interventions emanating from this approach have now been implemented in the United States and throughout Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.

However, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia, as well of other indigenous child populations, cannot be addressed without also taking a broader, holistic and cultural perspective. Recognising this, First 1000 Days Australia, in collaboration with key stakeholders – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, community health groups and government partners – has been developed as an Australian Model of the 1,000 Days movement.

Australian movement 

First 1000 Days Australia aims to encourage a change of attitudes, practices, policies and programs that pertain to early life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Importantly, the Australian movement builds on First 1,000 Days international maternal and child nutrition programs to include:

  • community-led engagement and co-production strategies implementing family wellbeing and economic empowerment

  • growing a First 1000 Days Australia workforce

  • shifting the national discourse surrounding these issues from one of deficit to strength. 

The movement recognises the importance of culture and family ties in securing positive identities and relationships, ultimately restoring power to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to respond to their own aspirations as they see fit. 

First 1000 Days Australia aims to achieve attitudes and behaviour change through research, program design and implementation and advocacy. In addition, we aim to influence broader policy and program development to reflect an increased understanding of cultural protective factors for family wellbeing.

By focusing on the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, First 1000 Days Australia is respectfully disrupting existing policies that are based on a paradigm in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the problem, not the solution. These ideas are explored in a series of education and training courses, presentations and strategic initiatives.