Children sitting on grass

Reducing inequities in children’s health and development would have immediate and lasting benefits for children, families and communities. There are many existing policies and services that help ensure children have access to the environments and experiences needed to thrive in their early years of life. Unfortunately, we often lack the evidence to choose the most efficient and effective action and no single intervention alone is enough to tackle inequities. 

The Changing Children’s Chances (CCC) project – funded from 2016-2024 and led by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – focuses on the need for precision policy and seeks to understand the best ways to address the inequity children in Australia face.

Phase One of the CCC project (2016-2020) described the complex circumstances in which children are born, live, learn and grow – known as social determinants. These social determinants shape children’s health, wellbeing and development. Phase Two of the project (2021-2024) aims to better understand policy opportunities for reducing inequities in children’s mental health, physical health and academic achievement.

Professor Sharon Goldfeld recently presented findings from the CCC project to The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care on ‘Radical Pragmatism: can we achieve equity in child health and development in a generation?’. This presentation has sparked interest and important discussions leading up to the Early Years Summit in February 2023.

Currently, CCC researchers are modelling how combining or ‘stacking’ interventions can reduce inequities – particularly for those experiencing the greatest vulnerability or disadvantage. The project capitalises on powerful national datasets, including the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP)

Research shows that action can be taken at the family, community and policy level. The CCC project proposes that a combined approach at all three levels can best optimise children’s health and development. 

The findings from the CCC project can help to direct limited public funds towards opportunities that will have the greatest impact on children. This can inform more effective and precise policies to reduce inequities in children’s health, development and wellbeing.

Professor Goldfeld also briefly discussed the potential indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and the Generation Victoria (GenV) project which will help inform the CCC project.

The Changing Children’s Chances project unites leading national and international child equity researchers and child health clinicians. The University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are partnering with Beyond Blue, The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, The Australian Government Department of Social Services and the Brotherhood of St Laurence to reduce inequities in children’s health.

View Professor Goldfeld’s presentation slides or watch the presentation to the Department of Health and Aged Care. Visit the Changing Children’s Chances project for more information.