Executive summary

Data updates

25/02/22 – New data tables in the Data section of Australia’s children present updated data related to the information domains: Health, Education, Social support, Housing and Justice and safety. These updates are broader than simply updating the previously released tables. The web report text was last updated in December 2019.

Childhood is an important time for healthy development and learning, and for establishing the foundation blocks of future wellbeing, but it is also a time of vulnerability. While a positive start in life helps children to reach their full potential, a poor start increases the chances of adverse outcomes for the individual, society and possibly future generations.

Australia’s children examines the most recent data on children and their families across the 7 domains of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare people-centred data model—health, education, social support, household income and finance, parental employment, housing, and justice and safety.

The report shows that most Australian children are healthy, safe and doing well, but there is scope for further gains in some areas. It also includes some data collected directly from children giving them a voice on their wellbeing.

How are Australia’s children faring on national indicators?

Doing well

  • Death rates among Australia’s infants and children have dropped substantially. Between 1998 and 2017, infant deaths dropped from 5.0 to 3.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. Child deaths halved from 20 to 10 deaths per 100,000 children.
  • Less mothers are smoking during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Between 2011 and 2017, the proportion of mothers smoking fell from 13% to 9.5%.
  • The proportion of Year 5 students achieving at or above the national minimum standard for reading and numeracy increased between 2008 and 2018. Reading increased from 91% to 95% and numeracy from 93% to 96%.
  • The rate of children aged 10–14 under youth justice supervision decreased between 2008–09 and 2017–18, from 95 to 73 per 100,000 children.

Could be better

  • Around 1 in 4 children aged 5–14 are overweight or obese, with the proportion remaining relatively stable between 2007–08 (23%) and 2017–18 (24%).
  • Most children (96%) aged 5–14 do not eat enough vegetables, with the proportion meeting the guidelines for vegetable consumption only increasing slightly between 2014–15 (2.9%) and 2017–18 (4.4%).
  • In 2016–17, there were around 66,500 hospitalised injury cases for children aged 0–14, slightly higher than 10 years earlier. The rate was relatively stable between  2007–08 and 2016–17 (1,419 and 1,445 per 100,000, respectively).
  • Around 19,400 (0.4%) of children aged 0–14 were homeless on Census night in 2016, similar to the proportion in 2006 (0.5%).

What do Australia’s children say?

  • Most children (91%) aged 12–13 felt safe in their neighbourhood in 2015–16.
  • 1 in 5 Year 4 students experienced bullying on a weekly basis in 2015.
  • Most children (94%) in years 4, 6 and 8 spent quality time doing at least one of talking, having fun or learning with their family most days in the week in 2014.
  • 97% of children aged 12–13 had someone to talk to if they have a problem in 2016.
  • Almost 9 in 10 children aged 12–13 would talk to their mum and/or dad if they had a problem in 2016.
  • For children in years 4, 6 and 8, health ranked as the second most important domain, after family, for having a good life in 2014.