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MCH is an investment worth making

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Maternal and Child Health (MCH) is the most valuable early intervention service provided by Victorian local government, a service councils across the state have provided for more than 100 years.

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) believes Victorian children deserve the opportunity to reach their potential via place-based universal services supporting them and their families.

MAV President Cr David Clark said the evidence is clear on the benefits of the MCH service.

“Investment and early intervention, particularly in the first three years of life, has long term health and lifestyle benefits, not only for children but for our community as a whole,” Cr Clark said.

“We know investing in the MCH Service is the avenue for changing the trajectory of children for the better, particularly those at higher risk.”

Cr Clark said healthcare was undeniably the hot-button issue of the state election campaign.

“MCH services have health promotion and prevention at their core. The service continues to be the most economical way to improve outcomes and nurture the future for our youngest Victorians.”

“Investment in MCH services improves health outcomes and results in a large flow on savings for communities and governments on future health spending.”

The MAV is deeply concerned about a shift over the past few years.

"The current costing methodology project, commissioned by the Department of Health, is demonstrating the growing funding gap, " Cr Clark said.

"The MAV is calling for an immediate correction of this gap by increasing the unit cost from $126.38 to $144.22 and to restore to the 50:50 funding agreement, once the true cost of the service is established, with the completion of the costing project.

“Cost shifting in MCH has resulted in the underfunding of this essential service,” Cr Clark explained.

“The unit price for an hour of MCH service delivery has not been reviewed since 2016 and has not kept pace with inflation during or since COVID turned our world upside down,” Cr Clark said.

Alongside an immediate correction in funding to reinstate the 50-50 model, the MAV is asking for a review of the Key Age and Stage Framework.

MAV welcome’s the Premier’s announcement of stop gap measures, however the underlying issues of the State not delivering on its share of funding remains.

A review to look at what is included when, and adequate time allocation to meet the needs of families, and a state-wide workforce strategy to address the workforce shortages across the state is desperately needed for the sustainability of the service now and into the future.