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Strategic framing in early childhood development

  • Every day in your work with, or for, children and families, you have a big opportunity to talk about child development in a way that supports lifelong health and wellbeing, and the future of our country.

    Why do we need to build awareness and action on child development?

    The way you talk about child development can raise awareness of what it is, and why it matters. Crucially, it can help individuals, families and communities respond in ways that enhance the health and wellbeing of children.

    By telling a consistent and evidence-based story about child development, one that raises awareness, we can unite to build community action, practice, programs and policies that help Australia’s children and our country to thrive.

    There are vast gaps between what evidence tells us and how we as individuals, communities and a country think and act. Bridging these gaps is possible – and vital – for everyone to thrive. 

    For example, right now in Australia, more than 1 in 5 children start school developmentally vulnerable every year. Each of these children are at greater risk of having health, social and emotional problems in adulthood. When almost a quarter of Australia’s population are not developing to their full potential, we are all affected.

    We can do better, we must do better – and you have an important role to play in ensuring that no child is left behind.


    How to build awareness and action on child development

    You can contribute to raising awareness of child development and why it matters, and help others translate awareness into action, with the help of evidence-based communications tools.

    ‘Framing child development and care in Australia’ helps professionals working with, or for, children and families to talk about child development in a way that counts and includes practical examples to adapt.

    Please use and share this tool to build awareness and action across Australia on child development.

    Together, we can make lives better – for children and our country. Let’s get started!

    Check out the toolkit.


    A team effort

    The toolkit is based on FrameWorks Institute findings from ten years of international empirical communications research on how to effectively translate early childhood development, and ongoing research in Australia. 

    The toolkit was sponsored by the Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children’s Hospital and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute with the support of The Benevolent Society, Berry Street, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Department of Education and Training (Victoria), the Department of Education (Australia), Early Childhood Australia, Goodstart Early Learning, Mission Australia, the Parenting Research Centre, The Smith Family and UNICEF Australia. 

    Everyone can contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Australia’s children: read on to discover more ways to strengthen awareness and action on child development.


    More ways to build awareness and action on child development


    Brain Builders animation

    Learn how to communicate effectively about how children’s brains develop, with this Brain Builders animation. Use this engaging and accessible story in your work to demonstrate what supports a lifetime of good mental function and health for Australia’s children.

    Navigating waters: Talking about parenting

    Explore choices that you can make when talking about parenting, and in your own communications, with this tool developed by The FrameWorks Institute in partnership with the Parenting Research Centre.


    Perceptions of parenting

    This diagram maps the gaps between expert and public understandings of effective parenting in Australia. Read the full report commissioned by the Parenting Research Centre and conducted by The FrameWorks Institute.


    Bright tomorrows start today

    Check out this video from the Telethon Kids Institute for ‘Bright tomorrows start today’. It’s a great example of the ‘Framing child development and care’ toolkit in action and shows the amazing activity that happens in a baby’s brain in those precious early years.


    Modernity, morals and more information: Mapping the gaps between expert and public understandings of early child development in Australia

    Read research comparing how experts and the Australian public think about child development and what you can do to bridge those gaps.


    Message Memo: Finding the Southern Cross

    Read about how FrameWorks Institute research can help you translate the science of early childhood development.


    On the street interviews

    Hear what everyday people on the streets of Melbourne have to say about early childhood development. How would you talk with them in a way that counts?


    Using values to communicate about early childhood

    Watch a video on how choices about how we communicate – also known as strategic framing – to encourage Australians to think more productively about child development.


    Theory of change

    To increase awareness and action on child development, we need to find better ways of talking about it. Watch this video to learn how Strategic Frame Analysis™ can help.


    The ‘swamp’ of early childhood

    What are common public understandings of child development? Check out a snapshot in this diagram of the ‘swamp’ of early childhood.


    How to use strategic framing

    Discover practical ways to use strategic framing for social change.


    How do Australians understand child development?

    Watch this webinar on research around how the Australian public thinks about child development, early learning and effective parenting.


    Strategic framing for effective communication

    Explore these slides from a FrameWorks Institute workshop to help you use strategic framing techniques to talk about child development in more powerful ways.


    Get in touch

    To find out more about these resources, please contact Vikki Leone, Knowledge Translation Manager at



Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.