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Australian children are generally doing well in terms of their health and early learning, but some groups are doing less well than others, according to data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The Children's Headline Indicator interactive data portal provides the latest available information on how Australia's children aged 0-12 are faring. This release provides updated data for 11 of 19 nationally agreed priority areas covering health, early learning and care, and family and community.

'The information released today shows good news in that infant deaths continued to decline between 2006 and 2012 from 4.7 to 3.3 per 1,000 live births,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

In 2013 the majority of children (94%) of children attended an early education program in the year before beginning primary school and the proportion of children who were developmentally vulnerable at school entry fell between 2009 and 2012.

Most Year 5 students achieved at or above the national minimum standard for reading (96%) and numeracy (93.5%) in 2013 which was higher than in 2008 (91% and 92.7% respectively).

Low birthweight has remained stable at around 6% between 2006 and 2011

Child deaths from injuries have also remained stable at around 5 deaths per 100,000 children between 2008-10 and 2010-12.

'However, the data released today also shows that some children are faring worse than the general population,' Dr Al-Yaman said.

Indigenous mothers were more than four times as likely as non-Indigenous mothers to smoke during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Child deaths from injuries in 2010-12 were 3 times as high in outer regional, remote and very remote areas as in major cities, and infant mortality was about 1.6 times as high in areas with the lowest socioeconomic status compared with those areas with the highest socioeconomic status.

The Children's Headline Indicator interactive data portal is updated annually. It currently contains data for 15 indicators relating to child health, development and wellbeing (http://www.aihw.gov.au/chi/). 

The AIHW is a major national agency set up in 1987 by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 12 June 2014

Further information: Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1146