After several years of consultation with Aboriginal families, communities and services in Western Australia, Ngala developed the Growing Strong Brains® toolkit, which supports the optimal growth of a baby’s brain, though positive experiences.

We know that the first 2000 days of a child’s life are critical for healthy brain development, providing foundations for all future cognitive, behavioural, physical and social learning.

A recently published paper describes the implementation and evaluation of the Growing Strong Brains® toolkit in a remote Aboriginal community in WA between 2018-2019. This project was funded by Ngala and the Ian Potter Foundation. Edith Cowan University and the Ngangk Yira Research Centre, Murdoch University provided specialist advice to the project.

You can learn more about the project by reading the full paper here:

The paper highlighted critical elements of the GSB project, including:

  • The right people in the right role – recruiting local Aboriginal staff to lead the project
  • Strong partnerships, consultation and co-design. Begin with strong support from the local Aboriginal Community to ensure co-ownership is maintained during all decision making, communication, activities and evaluation
  • Build on local leadership for sustainability. Local champions identify themselves and the part they will play in sharing early brain development messages
  • Being flexible and finding creative ways to adapt messages to the local community.  It is important to share new ideas and incorporate these ideas in practice, to allow the local Aboriginal community to drive changes in their area. Provide regular feedback and learnings about what is working well, what needs to change and how we adapted to local challenges
  • Ongoing coaching, mentoring and reflection of how key messages and new ideas can be embedded into the everyday activities of families and service providers

GSB® is a flexible tool that allows early brain development messages to be included in diverse programs including early literacy, school attendance, nutrition, parenting, play and development and harm minimisation, before, during and after pregnancy and breastfeeding. It uses a culturally safe approach and focuses on relationships and building shared understanding between families, workers, organisations and systems, to promote the wellbeing of local children.

Ngala incorporates early brain development and child development research into all of our work. You can find out more about Growing Strong Brains Training or workshops here.