Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Report calls for lift in wellbeing of Aussie kids

An Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) report on The Wellbeing of Young Australians released today shows Australia is lagging behind international benchmarks.

Coinciding with Children’s Week, the ARACY report card is a clear signal there is no room for complacency and a need for improvement.

The report shows that we are well behind leading Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries on infant health, mental health, child abuse and neglect and accident and injury. The only exception is immunisation.

The gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians is well documented, and this study confirms the disadvantage for Indigenous children is shocking.

The Government is firmly committed to a child-centred approach to family policy.

This is reflected in the Government’s commitment to introduce a paid paternity leave scheme, the development of a Child Protection Framework and increasing the Child Care Tax Rebate from 30 to 50 per cent in our first Budget.

The Rudd Government is also investing $533.5 million over the next five years to ensure that by 2013 all Australian children have access to a quality, affordable early childhood learning program, delivered by a university-trained teacher, in the year before formal schooling.

The Government has ambitious targets to close the gap for Indigenous Australians, including the 17-year life expectancy gap within a generation and halving the mortality gap for children under five and the gap in literacy and numeracy achievement within a decade.

Children are our most important asset and we are determined to make children’s interests the driving force of our decision-making for families.

The report shows that Australian children report weaker family relationships than the best international results.

For example, only 51 per cent of 15-year-old Australian students agreed their parents spent time ‘just talking’ to them more than once a week – way behind Hungary at 89 per cent.

The ARACY Report Card provides vital baseline data that will enable us to measure the improvements for Australian children and youth over time.

I thank ARACY chair professor Fiona Stanley and her team for this important work, a valuable investment in the future of our children.