4105.0 - Children and Youth News, Apr 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/04/2004   
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In recent years there has been an expanding array of strategies and plans relating to children, many of which have an associated reporting mechanism or system. At the national level, initiatives such as the Federal Government's Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, National Agenda for Early Childhood and the National Obesity Taskforce, as well as the establishment of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) reflect a convergence of attention on improving the wellbeing and life chances of children. Initiatives such as these require statistical support in order to determine how children are faring and to track how this may be changing over time. A number of government and other organisations have developed statistical reports, frameworks and/or indicator sets for measuring these issues (for example, the Families First initiative in NSW, Best Start in Victoria, Our Kids in Tasmania, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's report, Australia's Children: Their Health and Wellbeing) while others have projects in development.

Given the intensive effort that is being applied to reporting on children and the potential duplication of effort in this field, there exists opportunities to bring together work and knowledge in order to provide a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to reporting. The recent workshop, A Picture of Australia's Children (auspiced by the Australian Council for Children and Parenting) brought together a wide range of research bodies, policy organisations and data professionals to discuss and further these issues.

The workshop provided an impetus for developing an information framework for measuring the health, wellbeing and development of children, establishing key indicators within this framework, and strategies for progressing reporting on this important population group. As well as enabling the creation of an overall picture of how children are doing, these initiatives will promote consistency and comparability across data collections and between jurisdictions, drive a single whole of nation approach to reporting, improve identification of emerging issues, and prevent duplication. As an initial output from this work, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (in consultation with an advisory committee, including ABS and other key stakeholders) will release the framework and indicator set in 2005 as the "A Picture of Australia's Children" report.

For more information contact Carrington Shepherd on 08 9360 5255 (carrington.shepherd@abs.gov.au).