National reporting on our children's health and wellbeing is about to take another step forward, according to a bulletin released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The Key National Indicators of Children's Health, Development and Wellbeing bulletin shows that the AIHW will be broadening its reporting on children to include influences on development such as family and community, education and early learning, socioeconomic status, and social cohesion.
Bulletin author Meredith Bryant said that this was in line with recent Australian and international research, which has underlined the crucial importance of these factors in shaping children's health, development and wellbeing later in life.
Ms Bryant said that while regular AIHW reports such as Australia's Children and Australia's Young People had always recognised the importance of family, social and community contexts for children, future reports would take significantly more account of these factors.
'In conjunction with our own Advisory Committee, the Australian Government Taskforce on Child Development, and the Australian Council for Children and Parenting the AIHW has developed a comprehensive new set of key indicators or measures. The indicators represent an acknowledgment of the wider social, community and economic contexts in which young people in Australia are growing up.'
'This is part of a national program of indicator development, data collection and regular reporting on children's health, development and wellbeing', Ms Bryant said.
'And it's consistent with the broader, "whole-of-government" approach to childhood policy, which focuses on early child and maternal health, early learning and care, and supporting child-friendly communities.'
'We will be using these new indicators as the basis of our forthcoming comprehensive report, A Picture of Australia's Children 2005. It will be out by May next year.'
The AIHW organised the indicators around answering questions such as:
- How healthy are Australia's children?
- How well are we promoting healthy child development?
- What factors can affect children adversely?
- How safe and secure are Australia's children?
- How well are Australia's children learning and developing? and
- What kind of families and communities do Australian children live in?
Ms Bryant said that although the majority of Australian children are fairing well, as seen in falls in death rates over the last 20 years, some were not.
'It's therefore important for us to monitor how particular groups of children are faring compared with others-for example, Indigenous children, and children from rural and regional Australia. We'll be doing that with the best possible data available.'