Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes

Giving Walgett and Coonamble children a better start to life

Friday, 2 February 2018

Giving Walgett and Coonamble children a better start to life
The towns of Walgett and Coonamble will have access to a highly successful mothers and babies’ health program, as part of the national expansion of the service to help build stronger, healthier and more resilient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said he was pleased that Walgett and Coonamble were chosen to be a site for the New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services program. 
“The New Directions program goes to the heart of the Australian Government’s commitment to halve the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality. It is contributing to the positive health results we are seeing for women and children,” Mr Coulton said.
“This includes a decrease in smoking rates during pregnancy, a decrease in rates of low birth weight babies and positive childhood immunisation rates. We are also seeing woman accessing antenatal care earlier and more frequently throughout their pregnancies.”
Mr Coulton said the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service in the Federal seat of Calare was also included in the New Directions Program. 
Expansion sites for both programs were identified through consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Partnership Forums. 
Better Start to Life is a 2014-15 Budget measure of $94 million over three years to 2017–18.
“These programs go to the heart of helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families have a great start to life and reach their full potential,” Mr Coulton said.
The Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, said the Better Start to Life investment was showing results.
“The Government has recently finalised the next phase of the Better Start to Life expansion, funding 14 new sites to implement the New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services program and five new sites to deliver the Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program,” Minister Wyatt said.
 “There are now 124 New Directions services and 13 Australian Nurse Family Partnership program sites in total.
“These programs are an important early investment in the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.”
A further 12 sites for the expansion of Better Start to Life are due to be announced soon. 

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