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Good news on the health of Australian children


Doug Hendrie


18/09/2018 3:48:34 PM

The latest report card on the health and welfare of Australia’s children and young people is in – and the results are broadly positive.

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The AIHW Children’s Headline Indicator 19 health, welfare and development indicators were agreed by state and federal health and human services ministers in 2008.

Australia’s infant mortality has dropped steeply, falling from 4.7 deaths per 1000 live births in 2006 to 3.1 in 2016, and deaths from injuries also fell from 6.2 per 100,000 in 2004–06 to four a decade later.
 
Teenage motherhood is steadily declining, with a drop from 17.6 to 11.4 births per 1000 to teenager mothers aged 15–19 between 2006 and 2015. And the percentage of women smoking in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy dropped from 13% in 2011 to 10% in 2015.
 
The data comes from the latest Children’s Headline Indicator report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report’s 19 health, welfare and development indicators were agreed by state and federal health and human services ministers in 2008.
 
Childhood literacy and numeracy have increased, with national literacy rates climbing from 91% in 2008 to 94% in 2017, and numeracy rising from 92.7% to 95.4% in the same period.
 
Overall family economic situations are improving, with disposable income (in real terms) rising from $449 in 2005 to $541 a decade later.
 
And only 22% of children live in a household with housing stress, down from 26% in 2011.
 
The news wasn’t all positive, however, with rates of children fully immunised by two years of age falling nationally from 92.5% in 2008 to 90.5% in 2018.
 
Rates of child abuse and neglect rose to 10 children aged 0–12 per 1000 in 2016–17, up from 7.5 in 2007–08. This may partly be due to increased awareness and reporting.

‘Although a real change in the incidence of abuse and neglect may contribute to the observed fluctuation, increased community awareness and changes to policy, practice and legislation in jurisdictions are also contributing factors,’ the report states.
 
Other indicators remained steady, including primary school attendance, rates of homelessness and dental health.



AIHW Children’s Headline Indicator childrens health young people





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