A Picture of Children and Young People in the ACT 2018 provides a comprehensive overview of national and local indicators relating to the health, wellbeing, learning and development of children and young people between the ages 0–25 years in the ACT.
This is the seventh time A Picture has been produced, providing policy makers with a robust evidence base for better practice and targeted policies that aim to improve outcomes for children and young people. Ongoing monitoring and analysis of trends helps in identifying areas where children, young people and their families need extra support to ensure holistic development of the younger generation.
Where possible, the report provides breakdowns based on a range of demographic information. This includes comparisons against age, sex, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. These breakdowns can further support analysis and contribute towards more targeted interventions or approaches that lead to improved outcomes.
The inaugural report in 2011, highlighted that most children and young people in the ACT were faring well. This trend has remained fairly constant in the 2018 release, with performance steadily maintained across a number of wellbeing areas. The report continues to highlight areas where the ACT is achieving positive wellbeing outcomes and potential areas to target for improvement. These are summarised below under the three outcomes framework domains:
Children and Young People
- Children fully immunised — The proportion of ACT children fully immunised (60–63 months) increased to 94.47 per cent in 2017, from 89.41 per cent in 2010. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the proportion has increased to 96.16 per cent in 2017, compared to 92.11 per cent in 2010.
- Children enrolled in preschool — The number of children aged four or five years enrolled in
- preschool has increased from 5,765 in 2013 to 7,064 in 2017.
- Year 10–12 apparent retention — The Year 10–12 apparent retention rate for all ACT students increased between 2011 (90%) and 2017 (92.1%) and is approximately 10 percentage points higher than national results.
- Smoking during pregnancy — The proportion of ACT resident women who smoked during pregnancy has decreased significantly from 15.4 per cent in 2004 to 6.6 per cent in 2015. The proportion of ACT women who smoke during pregnancy is consistently significantly lower than the national rate of 16.7 per cent in 2004 and 10.4 per cent in 2015.
- Breastfeeding — In 2016–17, 47 per cent of babies at three months of age were exclusively breastfed in the ACT. This is an increase from 28 per cent in 2015–16. However, the any breastfeeding rate for infants between the age of two and 12 months has decreased since 2011–12.
- Leading causes of hospitalisation — In 2016–17, there were 5,090 inpatient hospital episodes recorded at ACT public hospitals for children and young people aged 14 years or less in the ACT. The major causes of hospitalisation for children in 2016–17 include social reasons (315 episodes), bronchitis and asthma (228 episodes) and musculoskeletal injuries (196 episodes). The cases of viral illness increased from 56 in 2014–15 to 120 in 2016–17.
- Psychological distress — The proportion of ACT young people aged 16–25 years self-reporting high or very high psychological distress increased from 12.2 per cent in 2007–08 to 21.3 per cent in 2015–16. Females (20.0%) are more likely to report a high or very high level of psychological distress than males (11.4%).
- Children and young people who are overweight and obese — In 2014–15 in the ACT, 18.9 per cent of children aged 5–17 years were overweight and 5.5 per cent were obese. This is an increase from 2007–08 where 15.8 per cent were overweight and 5.2 per cent were obese. In 2014–15 in the ACT, 27.4 per cent of 18–24 year olds were overweight and 13.7 per cent were obese. This is an increase from 2011–12, where 25.7 per cent were overweight and 10.5 per cent were obese.
Family, Kinship and Informal Networks
- Births to teenage mothers — The ACT has one of the lowest teenage birth rates for 15–19 year old females in Australia. The ACT teenage fertility rate remained significantly low between 2004 (7.8%) and 2016 (4.4%) compared to the national rate for the same period between 2004 (16.2%) and 2016 (10.5%).
- Children and young people with disability enrolled in the education system — In February 2018, there were 3,311 students (P–12) with disability accessing special education programs, representing 4.3 per cent of the total students enrolled in public and non-government schools (77,142). The public schools consistently have a higher proportion of students with special education needs compared to non-government schools since 2014.
- Low income households in rental stress — There were 9,382 children and young people (0–24 years) living in low-income households in rental housing who are in housing stress in 2016. This is approximately 41 per cent out of all children and youth in low income households in the rental market.
Formal Networks and Community Support
- Families accessing services through the Child Development Service — The ACT Government Child Development Service commenced in January 2016 to support families who have concerns about their child’s development. The number of ACT children and families accessing the Child Development Service increased from 2,056 in 2016–17 to 2,864 in 2017–18.
- Government consultation with children and young people — — In 2016, data from the Australian Electoral Commission and Australian Census data from the same year indicated that 27,491 young people aged 20–24 years were enrolled to vote in the ACT. In March 2018, a total of 33,962 young people aged 16–24 years were enrolled to vote in the ACT with 25,870 aged 20–24 years.
- In a continuous effort to inform policies and programs based on the needs of children and young people, the ACT Education Directorate engaged more then 6,500 students, from early childhood to college from across the education sector, to hear their voice. The ACT Community Services Directorate also consulted with 269 young people aged 12–25 years from a broad range of cultural groups to discuss issues affecting young people and address their priorities and positive outcomes.