As individuals and as a population we experience constant change, and these changes have important implications for our health and wellbeing. While some health and welfare concerns span all age groups, others tend to emerge at specific life stages as we move from infancy and childhood, to raising a family and caring for others, through to the latter years of growing older. These transition periods present new challenges and health and welfare needs.

Early disadvantage can have lasting effects—the first years of a child’s life provide lifelong foundations for health and wellbeing. Children who have a poor start in life are more likely to develop problems with health, development, learning and behaviours, and these problems can have a cumulative effect over their lives.

Specific groups within our population also experience disadvantages and higher rates of illness and death than the general population, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people who live in rural and remote areas, and prisoners.