Professors Frank Oberklaid and Sharon Goldfeld at The Early Years Strategy Summit

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute was a key participant in the Albanese Government’s inaugural Early Years Summit held at Parliament House on Friday 17th February.

Four leading child health and early development experts from Murdoch Children’s attended the Summit, which will begin to shape a new strategy focusing on young children and their families.

The team included Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Director of Population and Health at Murdoch Children's and a member of the Early Years Strategy expert advisory group.

Professor Goldfeld said the Summit was a first step in fulfilling our moral responsibility to address child disadvantage, particularly in a country of Australia’s wealth. 

Professor Goldfeld said, “We know that not all children have what they need to develop well, to be healthy now and throughout their lives,” she said. “For over a decade we have not moved the needle on the substantial inequities in children’s development as they start school. We know that by the time kids start school, pre-existing inequities track forward so it can’t be about more of the same – this is a chance to do things differently.

“Reflecting the importance of Australia’s children to the nation’s future, Murdoch Children’s has called on the Australian Government to be bold in their actions. 

“We can improve entrenched childhood disadvantage by reforming the governance of early years and take seriously this commitment to put children at the centre of how government makes decisions about how it spends money. We can drive change for children’s outcomes through better use of existing data and “stacking” interventions for all families but especially those who need it most.” 

Professor Goldfield is co-lead of the ground-breaking Generation Victoria (GenV) project, which is one of the largest community-based newborn and parent cohorts in the world.

GenV offers insights into the early and mid-life stages to inform multiple policy agendas, including prevention, early years strategy and chronic disease prevention.

“GenV is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to inform our understanding of intergenerational disadvantage.” Professor Goldfeld said.

“It is the only dataset that can measure the benefits of the Government’s early childhood commitment and emerging Early Years Strategy.”

2023 Senior Australian of the Year finalist, Professor Frank Oberklaid AM also attended the Summit. He said that supporting early childhood would improve health and well-being for generations.

“We recently conducted a review of global early childhood research and found investing in children’s early years still reaped rewards decades later,” he said. “The Summit is a chance to start tackling issues we know are long overdue for change in Australia and for our most valuable resource, our children.”

Murdoch Children’s Summit participants were:

  • Professor Sharon Goldfield – Executive Director, Centre for Community Child Health at Murdoch Children’s
  • Professor Frank Oberklaid AM – immediate-past Executive Director, Centre for Community Health at Murdoch Children’s and 2023 Senior Australian of the Year finalist 
  • Dr Tim Moore – author of Murdoch Children’s pioneering ‘First 100 days’ reports
  • Derek McCormack – Director, a federally funded partnership between Murdoch Children’s and the Parenting Research Centre

Available for interview: 

  • Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Executive Director, Centre for Community Child Health at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Professor Frank Oberklaid AM, Immediate-past Executive Director, Centre for Community Child Health, 2023 Senior Australian of the Year finalist