Goal 4: Health checks—children aged 0–4

This indicator reports on the rate of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item 715 health checks among Indigenous children aged 0–4. The goal for this indicator is 69% by 2023.

Why is it important?

Early detection is the discovery of a disease or condition at an early stage of its development or onset, usually before symptoms occur. In Australia, primary health care providers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services and GPs, have a key role in early detection and early treatment programs. Early detection and treatment programs are most effective when there are systematic approaches to ensuring assessment and screening occurs regularly and at recommended intervals.

What data are available?

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are eligible for an annual Indigenous-specific health check, namely item 715 on the MBS. Administrative data are available on the number of MBS item 715 health checks for which a claim has been processed by Medicare Australia.

What do the data show?

Progress towards the goal is not on track. Although the rate of health checks among Indigenous children has increased over time, the rates in the 4 years from 2014–15 to 2017-18 were all below the trajectory points required to meet this goal.

In 2017-18, 27,243 health checks were provided for Indigenous children aged 0–4, corresponding to a rate of 30%. Indigenous males aged 0–4 were slightly more likely than females of this age to have received a health check (30% compared with 29%).

The rate of health checks among Indigenous children aged 0–4 varied by jurisdiction—ranging from 8% in Tasmania to 51% in the Northern Territory in 2017-18.