ACCHOs driving change to make every baby 'Strong Born'

  • (Victorian ACCHO, Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service’s local application of the Strong Born Campaign). Large banner with mother and child saying Strong Born pregnancy and grog dont mix
  • (Victorian ACCHO, Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service’s local application of the Strong Born Campaign). Large banner with mother and child saying Strong Born pregnancy and grog dont mix

(Victorian ACCHO, Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service’s local application of the Strong Born Campaign).

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are behind a nationwide effort to promote the Strong Born campaign, a powerful initiative that aims to raise awareness of the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and safe breastfeeding practices.

The Strong Born initiative was launched by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), with the support of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), in 2023.

Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO said growing strong healthy mums and bubs leads to healthy communities. “Our communities need to understand the risk of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and where to go for support if they need it.”

Whilst Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is often referred to as ‘the invisible disability,’ for many individuals and families across Australia it is a very visible part of daily life and a significant public health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and all Australians.

To further explain the importance of the Strong Born campaign, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy stated, “FASD is not confined to a particular community or demographic; it is a disorder that crosses socioeconomic, racial and educational boundaries. That said, the AMA tells us that in some high-risk Indigenous communities the prevalence may be as high as 12 per cent. All kids deserve the best start to life and the Strong Born campaign is an important campaign to keep raising awareness and taking the shame out of talking about these complex issues.”

An important aspect of the campaign is about growing a strong and healthy next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and reduce shame and stigma in communities, around FASD.

Victorian ACCHO, Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service (DWECH) is doing formidable work in this area. They have adopted and adapted the Strong Born campaign to provide a more locally nuanced approach to better reach their community. An example of their approach to breaking down stigma using the Strong Born materials, features beautifully photographed, local women and children on a highway billboard. The first of its kind, that we know of. The exposure to the billboard, according to the Victorian Government’s traffic volume report, is an average of 1,900 vehicles each day.

ACCHOs are the best placed to offer services and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities including, FASD.  

Further Strong Born grants are expected to be distributed to additional ACCHOs in 2024.

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