In this section
Reducing disadvantage in early childhood would have immediate and lasting benefits for children, families and communities. The Changing Children’s Chances project has already shown that we can almost halve problems with children's health and development if we address disadvantage.
The Changing Children’s Chances (CCC) project seeks to understand the best ways to address the inequity facing Australia’s children. Eliminating inequities provides substantial benefits for children and families. It is projected that
redressing disadvantage in the early years could reduce socio-emotional problems by up to 59%, physical functioning problems by 49% and learning problems by 55% (see Figure 1). Now the CCC researchers are modelling how combining or ‘stacking’ interventions can reduce inequities in children’s health and development – particularly for those experiencing the greatest vulnerability or disadvantage.
View CCC Summary
Figure 1: Projected benefits of addressing disadvantage early
Source: Goldfeld et al. Addressing disadvantage to optimise children’s development in Australia. Research snapshot #2. (2018).
A child’s experiences and environments in their early years provide the foundation for lifelong health, development and wellbeing. When children are supported from conception onwards, they have the best opportunity to thrive.
When children experience disadvantage, it limits their potential and creates a greater social and economic burden for all. Currently more than a third of Australian children experience some form of disadvantage. This is likely to increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected those already experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage. This inequity is unfair and avoidable.
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 (See Figure 2). These social determinants shape children’s health, development and wellbeing.
Figure 2: Framework for understanding the four key social determinants that contribute to inequities in children's health and development
Source: Goldfeld et al.,
Understanding child disadvantage from a social determinants perspective (2018c).
Phase two of the CCC project (2021-2024) extends on this foundation. This phase of the research aims to better understand policy opportunities for reducing inequities in children’s mental health, physical health and academic achievement.
There are many existing policies and services across education, health and social care portfolios that can help children and families to thrive. However, no single intervention alone is sufficient for tackling inequities.
CCC researchers are modelling how
combining or ‘stacking’ interventions can reduce inequities – particularly for those experiencing the greatest vulnerability or disadvantage.
Action can be taken at the family, community and policy level. The CCC project proposes that
simultaneous action at all three levels can best optimise children’s health and development. Our findings can help to direct limited public funds towards opportunities that will have the greatest impact. This can inform more effective and
precise policies to reduce inequities in children’s health, development and wellbeing.
Prof Sharon Goldfeld presents to The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care on 21 October 2022.
Access the presentation slides [PDF].
Changing Children’s Chances unites leading national and international child equity researchers and child health clinicians.
The CCC team also works collaboratively with our Knowledge Translation Reference Group, made up of policy experts from Australian state and federal governments and non-government organisations.
The Changing Children’s Chances project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Program (LP190100921). The
University of Melbourne and
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are partnering with:
The Changing Children’s Chances project capitalises on powerful national datasets. This includes the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP).
Learn more about the CCC data sources.
For further details about the CCC project, contact
Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Lead Investigator or
Dr Sarah Gray, Project Manager.
The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.