This report on the Children’s Headline Indicators provides the latest available information on how Australia’s children, aged 0–12 years, are faring according to 19 priority areas covering health status, risk and protective factors, early learning and care, and family and community environments. The report includes information on 12 priority areas with available data, and a further seven priority areas for which data are either not available at all or available but not suitable for reporting against the Headline Indicator.
Australian children are generally faring well according to the 12 Children’s Headline Indicators that have available data. There is, however, considerable variation in results between states and territories, and between certain population groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and those living in remote or socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. It is clear, therefore, that there is scope for further gains across these indicators.
The table on page viii presents key statistics on the Children’s Headline Indicators, and highlights important data gaps.
States and territories
New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had results better than, or similar to, the national average across either all or the vast majority of the 12 Headline Indicators with available data.
Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory had poorer results than the national average on several indicators. Queensland and the Northern Territory’s results on all education-related indicators were less favourable than the national average. Tasmania and the Northern Territory had higher injury death rates and all three jurisdictions had higher teenage birth rates.
The poorer performance of the Northern Territory is influenced by the relatively high proportion of Indigenous children, and the poorer health, education, social and economic outcomes experienced by these children.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to be disadvantaged across a broad range of health, development and wellbeing indicators. Indigenous children were:
- 2–3 times as likely to die as infants or due to injury, to be born with low birthweight, or to be developmentally vulnerable at school entry
- 5 times as likely to be born to a teenage mother
- 8 times as likely to be the subject of a child protection substantiation
- between 20–30% less likely to meet national minimum standards for reading and numeracy.
Children living in remote areas
Children living in more remote areas, compared to those in major cities, were:
- 2–3 times as likely to die as infants or due to injury
- 30% more likely to be born with low birthweight or to be overweight or obese
- more likely to be developmentally vulnerable at school entry, and around 40–50% less likely to meet national minimum standards for reading and numeracy.
Children living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas
Children living in the lowest socioeconomic status areas, compared to those in the highest socioeconomic status areas, were:
- almost twice as likely to die as infants and nearly 3 times as likely to die due to injury
- 30% more likely to be born with low birthweight
- 60% more likely to have dental decay
- 70% more likely to be overweight or obese
- more likely to be developmentally vulnerable at school entry.
Australia compared to other OECD countries
Internationally comparable data for OECD countries are available for only 5 of the 12 Headline Indicators with available data for Australia—infant mortality, low birthweight, dental health, injury deaths and teenage births. Australia ranked ahead of the OECD average on all these indicator areas; however, in relation to other countries, Australia ranked in the:
- top third of OECD countries for dental health (8th out of 22 countries)
- middle third for birthweight (12th out of 31), injury deaths (17th out of 32) and teenage births (22nd out of 34)
- bottom third for infant mortality (23rd out of 33).
This suggests there is still room for improvement on these areas in Australia.
Preliminary material: Acknowledgments
Part 1: Background
- Demographic overview of children in Australia
Part II: Priority areas
- Overview of children's health, development and wellbeing
Part III: Health priority areas
- Smoking in pregnancy
- Infant mortality
- Overweight and obesity
- Dental health
- Social and emotional wellbeing
Part IV: Early learning and care priority areas
- Attending early childhood education programs
- Transition to primary school
- Attendance at primary school
- Literacy and numeracy
Part V: Family and community priority areas
- Teenage births
- Family economic situation
- Child abuse and neglect
- Family social network
Appendix 1: Detailed tables
Appendix 2: Methods
Appendix 3: Data sources
Appendix 4: Child Health and Wellbeing Subcommittee members
End matter: Abbreviations; References; List of tables; List of figures