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Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program
The Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program (ANFPP) is based on the Nurse-Family Partnership model, which was launched in the United States over 40 years ago and has spread to eight countries. In 2008, the ANFPP was piloted by Australia’s Department of Health as part of the Closing the Gap Initiative.
Between 2009 and mid-2020, Abt Associates led the delivery of ANFPP, which is implemented by supporting teams at 13 sites across Australia. The nurse-led home visiting program is provided to Indigenous mothers throughout their pregnancy and until their infant is two years old. The program aims to improve pregnancy outcomes and disrupt intergenerational cycles of poor health, social, and economic disadvantage, all while helping parents develop a positive vision for their future.
At the heart of ANFPP is an acceptance of client autonomy; that the client is the expert in her own life and she should identify the solutions that work for her. Progress is made through small incremental changes, where success builds confidence to try a further change.
Over 10 years of delivery, the progam reported many successes. Breastfeeding rates within the program are higher than comparative national data for Indigenous children across all remoteness areas. Immunization targets were consistently met during the reporting period of 2014/15 to 2017/18.
These success stories are well-earned. Client complexity, chronic behavioural and lifestyle challenges, and other socio-economic factors are among the challenges ANFPP helps the mother and the wider family face. These issues can result in high preterm birthrates and low birthweights. For example, a large number of the latter were linked to mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy. Recognizing a need for more holistic and context-sensitive approach in the program delivery, ANFPP sites have put in place strategies to mitigate these factors.
An increasing number of good news stories from partner organizations highlight the importance of these efforts, such as a removed child being returned to their mother’s care following support from the ANFPP to help her develop mothering skills.