Ensuring children get the best possible start in life is central to the health, social inclusion and productivity agendas of the Australian Government. Meeting this goal will involve reforms in the areas of education, early childhood development, preventive health care and housing, as well as strategies to address economic and social disadvantage. The benefits of investing in children and young people flow through to the entire population with outcomes as diverse as greater productivity, lower burden of disease, stronger families, and safer and more connected communities. Promoting the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of Australia’s children and young people is therefore a matter of national priority.

Australia’s children and young people are growing up in an environment of rapid social, economic and technological change. The world in which children and young people live plays an important role in shaping their health, development and wellbeing, both in the short-term and into adulthood. It follows that any reflection on their progress needs to take account of these environmental factors. The indicator framework developed for this report aims to do this, by presenting a range of indicators in the areas of health, development and wellbeing while taking into account the broad social, community and economic factors.