Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Clearer insight into Australia’s Children

The health and wellbeing of Australia’s children and the influences of family and community on a child’s development have been highlighted in a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced that the report findings raised the need for continued support for Australia’s vulnerable children.

A Picture of Australia’s Children builds on previous reports on child health and wellbeing, with a broadened scope in the area of child development and the influences of family and community on children,” Senator Patterson said.

“The report shows the majority of Australia’s children are faring well. It found a significant decline in child mortality in the past two decades; a decrease in instances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; a decrease in the number of children being exposed to tobacco smoke; an increase in children attending preschool; and fewer children in juvenile justice facilities.

“While the report’s findings are overall very positive, they do reveal that there are groups of children whose health needs to be improved – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have poorer health and wellbeing on the whole. While the death rate among Indigenous babies has fallen consistently in recent years, it remains far higher than among other Australian babies.

“The report also identified childhood obesity; the prevalence of asthma in children; the number of women smoking during pregnancy; the proportion of children being born with a low birth weight; and the number of cases of assault against children as areas for continued concern.

“It is imperative Australia’s vulnerable children are given the necessary support and resources to grow and become active participants in our society.

“To achieve better outcomes for children, especially for those most in need, the Australian Government has been working across relevant portfolios and with the States and Territories, community organisations and parents to develop a National Agenda for Early Childhood.

“In line with the National Agenda for Early Childhood, A Picture of Australia’s Children is an important step in providing all levels of government and non-government organisations with the necessary data to ensure services and supports are responsive to the needs of children and their families,” Senator Patterson said.