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The Australian National University

‘Closing the Gap’ in child development outcomes in the Northern Territory

Presented by

Sven Silburn


Haydon Allen G052 (Quadrangle, near ANU Union), Australian National University


Wednesday, 30 May 2012
12.30 - 2.00pm

The Lancet's 2011 special series on Child Development highlights the international evidence showing that much of the inequality between and within populations is attributable to adverse early life experiences (Walker et al, 2011). Most of the known risks for adverse early childhood development are disproportionately prevalent in Australian Indigenous populations - especially in remote and very remote community settings of the NT, where over 40% of NT children now live.

This presentation will outline some recent NT data on these issues and the rationale for the research, service and community partnerships which the Menzies School of Health Research is seeking to build to advance scientific, policy and community understanding of key priorities for health, housing, family services and education in implementing and evaluating strengths-based, universal (i.e. population-wide) programs and services for 'closing-the-gap' in Indigenous early life outcomes.


  1. Walker SP, Wachs TD, Grantham-McGregor S, Black MM, Nelson CA, Huffman SL, Baker-Henningham H, Chang SM, Hamadani JD, Lozoff B, Meeks Gardner JM, Powell CA, Rahman A, Richter L. (2011) Child Development 1. Inequality in early childhood: risk and protective factors for early child development. Lancet Online September 23, 2011 DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60555-2. (Available online at:


Professor Sven Silburn is Director, Centre for Child Development and Education, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, NT. He is a national leader in clinical, epidemiological and evaluative research in child development and education with influential publications including major epidemiological studies of child health and school readiness (Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey; the Australian Early Development Index). He is member of the Steering Committee for the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC), a lead investigator on an NHMRC funded’ Too Solid’ Indigenous parenting study in Perth, and is leading the evaluation of the NT Department of Education and Training’s ‘Strong Start- Bright Futures’ program now being developed in 20 communities across the Northern Territory. 

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