The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Inc (AAIMHI) is a not-for-profit organisation of professionals from a range of disciplines including health, education and welfare dedicated to the field of infant mental health.
AAIMHI’s primary focus is to draw attention to the importance of the healthy social and emotional development of infants (0 to 3 years) in Australia.
This is achieved by assisting families, professionals and communities to build nurturing and strong relationships with their children, and to be aware of the causes and signs of mental, physical and emotional stress in infants.
The national association as we know it today has branches in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.
AAIMHI's early beginnings began in New South Wales in 1988 whilst another infant mental health group was formed in Victoria in 1992 as an affiliate of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH). South Australia launched a State Branch of AAIMHI in 1994, soon followed by Western Australia and Queensland in 1996. In 1998, as a result of considerable discussion between State representatives, it was decided to form a federal organisation with a small National Committee with representatives from each of the State Branches. A national constitution was developed and approved in June 1998. A further branch in the Australian Capital Territory was launched in 2009.
Further information about the evolution of infant mental health organisations in Australia and the early history of AAIMHI is contained in articles published in the AAIMHI Newsletter. David Lonie provided his reflections on the proposed merger of the International Association for Infant Mental Health (IAIMH) and the World Association for Infant Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines (WAIPAD) in the Autumn 1992 AAIMHI Newsletter
Beulah Warren presented a history of AAIMHI as part of the D.W. Winnicott Memorial Lecture at the joint National Conference of AAIMHI with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Conference in 2007. Her presentation was published in Vol 20 No.4 December 2007 AAIMHI Newsletter
The AAIMHI logo was designed in 2015. The graphic depicts an infant in relationship with a parent or caregiver. This symbolises Winnicott’s description of the essential nature of the caregiver-infant relationship that “there is no such thing as a baby” (Winnicott, 1964, p.88). A baby can only exist in a relationship so when you describe a baby you are describing a baby and someone. (Osofsky & Thomas, Zero to Three, 2012)
The circular shapes of the design suggests “containment” (Bion, 1962) and “holding” (Winnicott, 1963). Winnicott saw the key to healthy development was the continuation of reliable holding from the parent or caregiver to the ever-widening cirlce of family, school and social life.
The caregiver does not depict gender, age or race, allowing it to represent all caregivers in our Australian society. The design does not portray a stereotypical family with 2 parents – this does not downgrade the importance of a supportive other but allows identification by non-traditional caregivers.
The colour symbolises the warm, earthy tones of the Australian continent, representing the importance of warm, nurturing relationships and the cultural context in which Australian children are raised.