A major philanthropic donation announced in Canberra today will include a $75m contribution to develop a new blueprint for optimal child development in Australia and beyond.
The contribution is part of a $400 million donation by Andrew and Nicola Forrest, which was announced in the presence of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, at Parliament House.
Also in attendance at today’s event was Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., founding director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and Professor Donna Cross, director of CoLab – Collaborate for Kids within the Telethon Kids Institute.
“A revolution in science gives us new insights into what promotes healthy development, what derails it, and what can get it back on track,” Dr. Shonkoff said. “Early experiences literally shape the developing brain. A strong start in life—one that includes responsive relationships with adults, healthy environments, and positive experiences that buffer children from the impacts of stressors like poverty—can enable children to reach their full potential. Those facing significant disadvantages early in life are at risk of adverse outcomes that can have lifelong consequences and extend into successive generations.”
In recognition of this reality, the Minderoo Foundation has been ramping up its focus on early childhood development, including through the seed funding of a partnership with the Telethon Kids Institute. The partnership known as CoLab represents a collaborative platform to improve service delivery and community capacity and to enhance our understanding of what it takes to nurture strong future generations of children.
“This increased commitment provides an opportunity to expand the work we are already doing through CoLab and pursue unprecedented new partnerships,” Professor Cross said. “We see today’s announcement as the start of an exciting global partnership with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, represented here today by its founding director Dr. Jack Shonkoff. Change across nations will take unparalleled collaboration between government, researchers, business, and the community. We need joint action and joint responsibility to ensure a positive future for our society.”
Minderoo believes that we must work with families, in their communities, to find out what solutions work for whom and in what contexts. We need breakthrough impacts at scale. To do this we will learn from other nations and inform them in return about the critical success factors in our Australian context.
“With existing service systems and policy settings in Australia, we have failed to make the change needed to enhance the developmental status of our children, and we have seen the gap between the least and most advantaged widen,” said Professor Jonathan Carapetis, director of the Telethon Kids Institute.
The Minderoo Foundation hopes to build on the excellent work that CoLab has already commenced and pursue new partnerships like the one with Dr. Shonkoff and the Center on the Developing Child. For more information on CoLab – Collaborate for Kids and the Center on the Developing Child, please visit https://colab.telethonkids.org.au and www.developingchild.harvard.edu.
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