This is the third and final progress report on the Child Health Check Initiative (CHCI). It builds on two previous progress reports published in May and December 2008 and provides further information on the extent to which children who received a Child Health Check (CHC) under the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) received the follow-up services they need. The questions answered in this report include:

  1. What proportion of children in NTER prescribed areas who were eligible to receive CHCs actually received these checks?
  2. What health conditions were identified among Indigenous children who had CHCs?
  3. What health services are needed for Indigenous children in NTER prescribed areas as identified by referrals received at CHCs?
  4. To what extent have Indigenous children who had a CHC received the follow-up services they need?
  5. What is the extent and type of unmet or continuing need for services among Indigenous children in the prescribed areas?

Key findings

  1. Of 16,259 children aged 0–15 years in the prescribed areas of the NTER, 10,605 (65%) had at least one valid CHC between 10 July 2007 and 30 June 2009 for which the AIHW received data. A further 4,000 checks were provided under the Medicare Benefits Schedule, but data on these children are not included in this report.
  2. About 97% of children had at least one health condition or risk factor identified during their CHC. The most common health conditions were oral health problems (43%), ear disease (30%) and skin problems (30%).
  3. Over three quarters (76%) of children who had a CHC lived in households where a smoker was present.
  4. Among children who had a CHC, 70% received at least one referral for a health condition. The most common referral types were primary health care (39%) and dental (35%).
  5. Of 7,797 children who had a complete chart review for their first CHC, 36% required further follow-up for a health condition.
  6. There were 3,517 children who received an audiology check and 561 children received follow-up services by an audiologist, 44% of those referred for follow-up.
  7. There were 3,355 children who received a dental check and 1,226 children received follow-up services by a dentist, 38% of those referred for follow-up.
  8. Comparisons of the data over time show that most health conditions had fairly high recovery rates. The appearance of new cases of common conditions in the target population after the first CHC, however, indicates that these conditions continue to highly prevalent among these children. This reinforces the knowledge that improving health outcomes for Indigenous children requires not only short-term treatment of health conditions, but also longer term initiatives to address underlying causes of ill health such as socio-economic disadvantage, housing conditions and education levels.

These findings will inform an evaluation of the Child Health Check Initiative to be completed by June 2010.