New research funding for projects with migrant & refugee family and children in rural NSW

25 March 2021
Population Health

Our researchers at Kids Research, Sydney Children's Hospitals Network have been awarded over $1.8M in funding in the latest OHMR Translation Research Grants Scheme (TRGS) for two research projects with a focus on migrant and refugee families and rural children in NSW respectively. 

There are approximately 500,000 children living in NSW, 30% of the state’s total, live outside major cities. In total, 19% of Australian children have at least one chronic condition that affects their quality of life, 3 equating to 95,000 children in rural NSW. Children with complex medical needs represent approximately 10% of patients attending children’s hospitals, but account for 60% of expenditure. Rural families have on average 20% less disposable income than families from urban areas and they have told us that they face additional disruption and costs; journeys are 8 times longer, children can miss 2 days of school and their parents/carers 2 days of work for simple appointments, not to mention the large costs of overnight stays for food and accommodation.

This project aims to deliver care closer to home for rural children with complex health needs and will develop, evaluate and implement novel technology enabled models of care (based on the SCHN Kids Guided Personalised Service (KidsGPS)), allowing capacity to support families and their local healthcare providers.

One quarter of NSW children from migrant and refugee families of preschool age are at risk of delayed development. These children are more likely to struggle at school and have poorer health as adults. Only a third of children complete their 12-month growth and development checks with Child and Family Health (CFH) services where these issues can be identified. Some parents may attend other health services (e.g. a hospital) when they are worried about their child rather than a CFH service. Migrant and refugee families experience additional barriers in attending CFH services.

The FDCC project funded through South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, in partnership with UNSW, will compare the current model of care for migrant and refugee women transitioning from maternity to CFH, linking women and families (from the start to end of pregnancy) to a local child and family hub, to improve service coordination to better meet women and children’s development, health and social needs. 

Hubs in the study are based in Rockdale, Miller (South Western Sydney Local Health District) and Ryde (Northern Sydney Local Health District). 

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