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More than 23,000 children and young people in New South Wales were hospitalised because of an injury in 2009-2010, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the NSW Commission for Children and Young People.

The report, Serious childhood community injury in New South Wales 2009-10, provides information on hospitalised injury of NSW children (aged 0-17) between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2010. It also provides information on long-term trends.

'Overall, falls were the most common cause of hospitalised injury, accounting for 39% of cases,' said AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison.

'The most frequent type of fall involved playground equipment, followed by skateboards and scooters. Transport injuries were also common, making up 14% of hospitalised injuries in children and young people,' Professor Harrison said.

The report found that boys were more likely to be injured than girls and that the rate of injury among boys, but not girls, increases steeply with age. Across all age groups the rate of injury was 1,864 per 100,000 boys and 1,036 per 100,000 girls.

'The three most common causes of injury among boys were transport accidents, falls, and assault, while for girls, falls were the leading cause, followed by transport accidents, and then self-harm injuries,' Professor Harrison said.

Since 1999 there has been some improvement in the rate of injury from poisoning by pharmaceuticals (down 6%) and marginal improvements for poisoning by non-pharmaceutical substances (down 4%); drowning (down 3%); assault (down 2%); and transport injuries (down 2%). However, there has been no improvement in the rate of injury due to falls, exposure to heat, fire and smoke, self-harm, and other unintentional injury.

NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People, Megan Mitchell, said the report helps lay the groundwork for a more coordinated approach to preventing serious childhood injury in NSW.

'With 1 in 20 hospitalisations for childhood injury posing a serious threat to life and no significant improvement in recent years in the overall rate of serious injury among children and young people, we need to do better,' Ms Mitchell said.

'We need good data and research to better understand the circumstances in which children are injured. This will inform a more strategic approach to injury prevention in NSW and ensure that money spent has a real and lasting impact for all children and young people.      

'This is why I am establishing an expert advisory committee on childhood injury prevention to examine the data in this report, look at where further research should be directed, and make practical recommendations to the NSW government,' Ms Mitchell said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 17 December 2012

Report contact: Professor James Harrison, AIHW, tel. 08 8201 7602, mob. 0405 031 467

Policy contact:  Megan Mitchell (contact: Bruce Williams 9286 7239 or 0413 452 498) 

Full report: Serious childhood community injury in New South Wales 2009-10

Serious childhood community injury in New South Wales 2009-10