Baby Makes 3 wins VicHealth’s Outstanding Health Promotion Award 2022

Baby Makes 3 wins VicHealth’s Outstanding Health Promotion Award

We are excited to share that our Baby Makes 3 health promotion initiative is the winner of VicHealth’s Outstanding Health Promotion Award! This category of the Victorian Health Promotion Awards recognises a health promotion organisation or program that was able to be flexible, innovative and successful in supporting Victorians to improve their health and quality of life.

Baby Makes 3 – Supporting families to thrive, was successful in receiving the 2022 award as they rose above the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver a year of incredible program evolution and strategic growth, delivering important mental health and wellbeing benefits to more first-time parents across Victoria than ever before, particularly those from vulnerable, marginalised and ‘hard to reach’ communities.

The impact of COVID-19 starkly illustrated unequal parenting roles with the burden of housework and childcare, and particularly home schooling, falling to mothers. The pandemic triggered an increase in the numbers of new parents contacting Beyond Blue, PANDA and the Gidget Foundation for mental health support. Tragically, the incidence of family violence also increased. Consequently, the work of Baby Makes 3 has never been more important and with this award, is on its way to being duly recognised for its significant impact.

Up to 48,200 families benefited from Baby Makes 3 initiatives during this year, with the team developing new partnerships, a deeper focus on influencing systems and settings to support large-scale sustainable change, adapting the range of training and education programs to be delivered remotely and developing new programs and resources, co-designed with organisations with specific cultural expertise for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups and Aboriginal community groups. Baby Makes 3 also supported 33 local governments, 12 community service organisations and 17 hospitals.

    This all underpinned a year of impressive results, along with many years of ongoing program development, and solidifies this award recognition.

    Congratulations to the Baby Makes 3 team; Anita, Olive, Sulochana, Bronwyn, Heidi and Rachael for this incredible achievement. A thank you also goes to John (pictured in the middle on the photo above) who contributed to the development of our award submission.

    The awards night was held on 13 February 2023 and we thank the organisers for hosting a wonderful event.

    Find out more here

    About Baby Makes 3

    Two female parents and their baby are laughing candidly outside. One of the parents is holding the baby

    Baby Makes 3 is a unique, evidence-based health promotion and social change initiative that provides support to new parents and shapes attitudes and social norms by challenging outdated gender expectations of becoming a parent.

    We promote equality in parenting through our programs directly for new parents, and through initiatives that increase the capacity of universal settings (local governments, maternal and child health services and public antenatal services) to integrate gender equality principles, practices and structures within perinatal services.

    This page contains information, tools and resources for

    • Maternal and child health and maternity services staff

    • Childbirth educators

    • Maternity and midwifery education deliverers

    • Professional associations

    • Community organisations working in child health

    Where and how we work towards gender equality

    How do I learn more about the Baby Makes 3 initiative?

    You can download the Baby Makes 3 Program Overview and the Baby Makes 3 program snapshot.

    Contact our friendly team on

    Subscribe to the Baby Makes 3 newsletter

    Client story - Finding balance as a new family

    Babies curiously touch each other as parents mingle before the start of their third and final week of Building Strong Families - Baby Makes 3 workshops for Mandarin speaking new parents.

    The BM3 group-based program supports new parents and acknowledges that the arrival of a newborn marks the extraordinary time in a family, but can also present parents with unexpected challenges for themselves and their relationship.

    Eric and Cheryl are new parents to Dylan, a happy and easy going seven-month-old. They came to the workshops with the shared intention of learning more skills since they are both first time parents and do not have any support of extended family in Australia. They beam as they talk about how Dylan has enriched their lives, but they also admit they have faced new challenges. Eric shares, “Suddenly there is a whole life difference, we don’t have our family to help like other people, so it’s really a big challenge for us. Firstly, we are both really exhausted but every time we see or hear Dylan’s joy it is worth it just to see him smile, that’s our main source of energy keeping us going”. Cheryl looks adoringly at her now sleeping baby adding, “I feel happiness everyday”.

    Baby Makes 3 partnered in codesign with New Life Community Care, Migrant Information Centre, Chinese Community Social Services Centre, Women's Health East and Whitehorse City Council to adapt and tailor Baby Makes 3 for Chinese families.

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    Delivering mental health and wellbeing benefits

    Resource: Improving the mental health and wellbeing of first-time parents and their children by fostering equal and respectful relationships, and collaborative co-parenting

    The mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s new and expectant mothers has been steadily deteriorating for the last two decades. This decline has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing impacts. Unfortunately, and in some cases tragically, this has resulted in a damaging ‘perfect storm’ for the mental health and wellbeing of new parents.

    Women – especially birthing mothers – are more likely to experience good mental health and wellbeing as parents if they are in an equal and supportive relationship where each partner co-parents their child, and they are each able to retain their connections with family and friends, pursue their interests, and participate in the workforce. By contrast mothers who experience a lack of support, or who carry an unequal burden of caring and household tasks and the ‘mental load’ associated with these activities, are at increased risk of experiencing parenting stress and perinatal depression and/or anxiety conditions.

    Improving the ways that couples communicate, relate to each other, support each other and co-parent brings significant mental health and wellbeing benefits for mothers, fathers and other non-birthing parents, their children, health services and the community. This is Baby Makes 3’s core focus.

    This resource details Baby Makes 3 as a critical initiative that positively impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of the diversity of families.

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    Our work with Maternal and Child Health Services

    Case study 1 - Group-based program

    This case study presents information about the Baby Makes 3 Group-based program for first-time parents; challenging gender stereotypes and promoting respectful relationships in parents.

    Case Study 2 – Whole of setting change

    This case study presents information about the whole of setting approach by Baby Makes 3 - challenging gendered expectations of new parents through organisational and practice change; to support the health and wellbeing of first time parents and their babies.

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    Free From Violence Second Action plan

    In December 2021 the Baby Makes 3 program was featured in the launch of the Free From Violence Second Action Plan, published by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

    The Second Action Plan marks the mid-point of Victoria’s 10-year plan.

    The below video explains how Baby Makes 3 works to build equal and respectful relationships for families who are becoming parents for the first time, and highlights its focus on challenging the rigid gender stereotypes and social norms associated with parenting.

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    Strengthening Gender Equality in Antenatal and Maternity Services Project

    Participation in the project is a great way for health services to meet obligations under the Gender Equality Act as highlighted by Victoria’s Gender Equality Commissioner Dr Nikki Vincent in the project launch webinar (24 June 2021).

    Gender Equality Act Webinar screenshot

    Balit Booboop Narrkwarren - Building strong families through culture and community

    Since 2016, healthAbility has worked in partnership with three Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) – Oonah Health & Community Services Aboriginal Corporation (The Belonging Place), Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service, and Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place – to develop Balit Booboop Narrkwarren.

    Balit Booboop Narrkwarren, which means ‘Strong Baby and Family’ in Woiwurrung language, is a culturally adapted model of the Baby Makes 3 program. It is an approach to support Aboriginal families, including children, young people and Elders to have respectful, culturally rich, strong and healthy relationships.

    Smoking Ceremony Balit Booboop Narrkwarren healthAbility

    Feature article - Australian Midwifery News

    Baby Makes 3 was featured in the Autumn 2022 edition of Australian Midwifery News, a publication by the Australian College of Midwives.

    The article by Baby Makes 3 Program Manager Anita Thomas details how the program works with partners and public maternity and antenatal services across Victoria to deliver healthAbility's 'Applying a Gender Equality Lens to Childbirth and Parenting Education' training to midwives, childbirth and parenting educators, program coordinators, and maternity, clinical and community program project staff and managers.

    It highlights how the training enables maternity and antenatal services to embed gender equality principles as standard practice so they can challenge gendered expectations of parenting, and promote equal and respectful relationships in families, and more broadly in local communities.

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    2021 Year in Review

    In 2021 Baby Makes 3 continued to support families through the transition to parenthood by partnering with antenatal and maternity services and maternal and child health services across metropolitan and regional Victoria.

    We also expanded our support for families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds by training more multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champions and facilitators.

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    The 2019-20 Antenatal Initiative

    Learn about the model and strategies we developed for integrating gender equality principles and approaches in antenatal practices.

    This initiative included co-designing and trialing with 6 public antenatal services across Victoria. The strategies ranged from simple cost-effective changes, to reviews of policies, physical environment and health information.

    View the Baby Makes 3_Antenatal-Initiative-Summary-2019-20

    View the Baby Makes 3_Antenatal-Initiative-Report_2019-20

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    Gender Equality Commission Case Study

    A case study on the Victorian Gender Equality Commission website describes a partnership with Northern Health highlighting that through their involvement in the co-design project (2019/20), they have been able to complete and subsequently act on a Gender Impact Assessment of aspects of antenatal and maternity services.

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    2016 Baby Makes 3 Evaluation Report

    This report collated the findings of a three-part evaluation of the Baby Makes 3 group-based program for parents. It demonstrates the effectiveness of Baby Makes 3 in changes to parents’ attitudes to gender roles and gender equality, shown by changes in behaviours at home.

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    In the spotlight

    Baby Makes 3 team present at National Childbirth Parent Education Association conference

    The theme of the conference, held on the Sunshine Coast 12-14 October was Riding the Wave of Change in Childbirth and Parenting Education tailored to health care professionals across multiple disciplines.

    Our Baby Makes 3 team was delighted to be invited to present a 40 minute interactive workshop on Building better balance - Applying a Gender Equality lens to Childbirth and Parenting Education.

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    Women's Health Week 2022

    Prioritsing Women's Health - Panel Discussion

    Anita Thomas - Program Manager Baby Makes 3 was part of the panel speaking at the Women's Health Week Discussion: Prioritsing Women's Health 

    Co-hosted by Kate Thwaites, Federal MP for JagaJaga, and Vicki Ward, State MP for Eltham, with local representatives from Women's Health in the North, Banyule Community Health and healthAbility, the event highlighted very important discussions regarding women’s health and service delivery in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

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    Building strong families – Healthy relationship workshop for Chinese new parents

    For Women’s Health Week, we partnered with Women’s Health East to celebrate the health and wellbeing of the Chinese women in the local community. We hosted a free online session for Chinese first time parents on building strong families, delivered in Mandarin.

    The session helped families sustain healthy and equal relationships after the birth of their baby. The discussion was around maintaining a healthy relationship during the transition to parenthood.

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    Get in touch

    To find out more about Baby Makes 3 please contact or call us on 9430 9100