Home | News | Forrests donate $75 million to map out optimal child development in Australia

Forrests donate $75 million to map out optimal child development in Australia

Early childhood development is set to be a winner from the celebrated philanthropy of Andrew “Twiggy” and Nicola Forrest. Seventy-five million dollars from the $400 million pledged this week is being carved off to develop a new framework for optimal child development in Australia.

The contribution was announced at Parliament House on Monday 22 May 2017 in the presence of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at an event hosted by the Oscar-winning star of Mystery, Alaska and doting dad Russell Crowe.

The Forrests’ donation will be channeled through their Minderoo Foundation, which has formed a partnership with Perth’s Telethon Kids to create CoLab, “a hub that brings together internal expertise and external stakeholders to to improve service delivery and community capacity and to enhance our understanding of what it takes to nurture strong future generations of children,” according to the founders.

Brass in pocket, CoLab is now collaborating with Harvard University’s, Center on the Developing Child, which was repped at the event by its head, Dr Jack Shonkoff.

“We see today’s announcement as the start of an exciting global partnership with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University,” said professor Donna Cross, director of CoLab.  “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.”

Shonkoff chimed in with some insights about why this work is important.

“A revolution in science gives us new insights into what promotes healthy development, what derails it, and what can get it back on track,” 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 a statement representing the thoughts of the Forrests, Minderoo outlined its objectives.

“Minderoo believes that we must work with families, in their communities, to find out what solutions work for whom and in what contexts,” the statement read. “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.”

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