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Importance of The First 1000 Days Highlighted at Tweddle's 96th AGM

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 24/11/16

Tweddle Interim Chair Mr Bryce Prosser joined Interim Treasurer Ms Doris Whitmore, Board members and CEO Ms Jacquie O' Brien in presenting the 2015/16 annual report at Tweddle’s 96th AGM on Wednesday 23rd November.

Mr Prosser spoke about the importance of Tweddle’s work improving the trajectory of a baby or toddler’s life through early intervention.  He shared insights into new programs and partnerships improving outcomes for families such as Working Out Dads and new Day Stay locations in Whittlesea and Brimbank.

“Tweddle’s work is to continue to educate and lobby around the importance of infant mental health and the need to target funding to support services working in the first 1000 days of a child’s life” he said.  

Board, management and staff were joined by special guest Dr Rebecca Ritte who spoke about the First Thousand Days Australia (conception to age 2) in an indigenous context.

Dr Ritte, an epidemiological Research Fellow at the Indigenous Health Equity Unit at The University of Melbourne, spoke about how some indigenous children are subject to poorer health outcomes and cognitive development that impact at individual, family, community and societal levels.

“First Thousand Days Australia aims to provide a coordinated, comprehensive model addressing the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families from (pre)conception to the age of two incorporating a multigenerational and dynamic expression of family” she said

Dr Ritte added that Indigenous knowledge, methods and leadership had to underpin multigenerational change including elder wisdom and authority, early years engagement and a life-course approach.

She explained how research is showing genetic changes stemming from trauma is capable of being passed on to their children, and subsequent generations.

Research shows the transmission of trauma to a child via what is called “epigenetic inheritance” is the idea that environmental influences such as alcohol, drugs and chronic stress can affect the genes of your children and possibly even grandchildren. So trauma in the first thousand days not only impacts brain development but impacts at a cellular level.

Tweddle’s focus on therapeutic interventions in the first 1000 days are also seen through the lens of impacts on future generations. “There is still so much to learn about this critical window of time in the life of an infant but we know enough to create change for future generations” agreed Ms O’Brien.

Guests and staff were recognised with service and achievement awards for 5 and 10 years with a 25 year service award presented to Milinda Steve. Ms O’Brien reflected on the importance of Tweddle’s redevelopment and presented an award to Mr Jim Hevey. Jim, a Tweddle baby in 1939, spent months working on a Tweddle historical tribute and donated the book as a fundraiser.

The Tweddle Foundation was launched and Mr Prosser accepted a statement of commitment from Ms Maureen Dawson Smith. The statement of commitment outlines the intent of the Foundation to support Tweddle by working to provide funds for better buildings, a better environment and additional services for families in order to get a better start during the key development years.


Dr Rebecca Ritte Tweddle AGM

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