About the project

Purpose and benefits

First Nations ways of knowing, being and doing have fostered physical, social, and emotional wellbeing for millennia. However, the ongoing impacts of colonisation, violence and discrimination have led to and reinforce harmful, compounding cycles of intergenerational trauma.

In a national survey of primary maternity care providers, 98% reported that trauma is having a significant impact on First Nations parents.

Yet almost half (43%) were not satisfied with the ability of their service to address this. Currently, there is no applied evidence for how to safely and effectively identify and support First Nations parents experiencing complex trauma. Any program in this space must ensure its benefits outweigh harms.

This project, in accordance with key recommendations from numerous national and international priorities, aims to address this critical health system need. It will deliver infrastructure for a shift in health policy and practice. Through this, it will help to improve the health and wellbeing of First Nations parents and their babies in the formative first 2000 days.


We greatly appreciate the funding provided by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

  • MRFF Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers and Babies (2022-2025) MRFMB000010 - Replanting the Birthing Trees to Support First Nations Parents and Babies

Collaborations and community engagement

Governance and collaborations

This project is an exemplar of First Nations-led research.

Our transdisciplinary and transcultural team includes 48 First Nations and non-Indigenous Chief Investigators and 17 partner organisation. Our governance structure is aligned with the four reform pillars of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. We will establish a governance group which includes representatives of First Nations peak bodies and Elders, supported by an embedded NACCHO senior policy officer to ensure outcomes contribute to this transformative shift.

Community engagement

Community and consumer engagement will provide participation through co-design from inception to implementation. This project has been co-developed over four years, with rigorous community co-design, to develop acceptable, culturally appropriate strategies to support parents.

Additionally, our team of First Nations Chief Investigators and organisations have directly engaged community-controlled and government health organisations, demonstrating leadership and strengthening mutual capacity.


Project partners are recognised leaders across the health, education and community sectors, and have been at the forefront of change to improve health services for First Nations communities.

They are critical to the success of this project and are ideally placed to influence practice and policy decisions, ensuring that the infrastructure we build is integrated into ongoing programs and systems.

Full list of partner organisations

  1. 1.National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)
  2. The Healing Foundation
  3. Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM)
  4. Lowitja Institute
  5. SNAICC – National Voice for our Children
  6. Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
  7. Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO)
  8. Blue Knot Foundation
  9. We Al-li Pty Ltd
  10. Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE)
  11. Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity
  12. Emerging Minds
  13. Orygen Youth Mental Health
  14. Mercy Hospital
  15. The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne
  16. Western Australia Country Health Service
  17. Armadale Health Service