The successful Captain Starlight program will help build better health for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, thanks to $816,000 in funding from the Morrison Government.
The Starlight Children’s Foundation’s Healthier Futures Initiative – which includes the Captain Starlight character - works with clinical teams to increase children’s attendance at health clinics and hospitals and improve their health service experience.
“Captain Starlight has proved a shining light for children and families, making health care visits fun, through play, song, dance and storytelling,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt.
“Studies have shown that during waiting and treatment times, providing a supportive, positive atmosphere leads to less stress, more attendance and better long-term health results.”
In 2018, Captain Starlight visited 51 remote community and hospital locations in the NT and 28 in WA.
Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM said the new funding will help support Starlight’s Healthier Futures initiative expand into far north and southern Queensland, and South Australian urban hospitals and communities.
“The program allows signs and symptoms of disease to be picked up and treated before they progress to a later stage and children coming in with siblings can also be identified if they need a health check,” Minister Wyatt said.
“The program also allows time for health professionals to discuss preventable diseases with families and offer useful advice.”
Starlight Children’s Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Louise Baxter said the program supports existing health services to help in Closing the Gap in paediatric health outcomes.
“This funding is a welcome boost for our program, which reframes the experience of treatment and helps children avoid the development of chronic health conditions that have a significant impact on health, education and employment,” Ms Baxter said.
“Concerning health issues for these children can include Rheumatic Heart Disease and the ear condition Otitis Media.”
The Morrison Government has committed $35 million to developing a vaccine to end Rheumatic Heart Disease.
Independent research by the Lowitja Institute highlighted the impact of the Healthier Futures Initiative:
· Improved attendance and longer stays at clinics
· Easier management of clinics
· The creation of a more welcoming, family friendly environment
· Improved support for existing health promotion programs
Thanks to the Morrison Government’s commitment to a strong economy, there is a record investment of $4.1 billion over the next four years in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities.