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General News, Youth

The clock is ticking: new national health scorecard sheds light on unprecedented challenges threatening the wellbeing of Australia’s children

VicHealth, the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, and the Australian Research Alliance for 3 mins read

Amid rising concerns about the health challenges faced by Australian children and young people, the Future Healthy Countdown 2030 is being launched today —a vital framework to help steer the nation towards enhanced wellbeing.

The Future Healthy Countdown 2030 tracks and reports on the most important health and wellbeing outcomes for young Australians. The framework demands we focus our attention and start a conversation on how we can better support our most vital resource: our children.

Supported by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), the framework launches against the backdrop of issues, like wealth inequality, inactivity, food insecurity, and stress, impacting the health of young people.

Key statistics highlighting the urgent need for action include:

  • One in six Australian children and young people live in poverty.
  • Among 5–14-year-olds, 24% grapple with overweight/obesity, rising to 41% for 15-24-year-olds.
  • A concerning 40% of 16-24-year-olds meet the criteria for a mental disorder.

VicHealth CEO, Dr. Sandro Demaio, emphasised the critical nature of safeguarding the wellbeing of our kids.

“As one of the most affluent countries on the planet, Australian children and young people should be thriving. But instead, the prospects for many Australian children are not only stagnating, they are moving backwards,” Dr Demaio said.

“We are currently falling behind on a key test of prosperity: that our children have opportunities to live as well or better than their parents.”

Dr Demaio said the Countdown aligns with the Federal Government's Measuring What Matters Framework, refining measures for children and young people while complementing the Early Years Strategy and prioritising prevention.

“By putting the spotlight on prevention, we can improve outcomes for both the present and future generations, taking inspiration from past successes such as universal healthcare, increased immunisation rates, and advancements in education,” Dr Demaio said.

Annually until 2030, the Countdown will bring together Australia's best minds and young voices, publishing insights on key measures of Australian children’s health and well-being.

The inaugural issue, titled "Future Healthy Countdown 2030: Measuring What Matters for Good Health and Wellbeing for All of Australia’s Children and Young People," is now available in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Director, Population Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute said the Countdown could prompt social, economic, and political change to improve the prospects of Australia's children, particularly those experiencing disadvantage.

"We're at a critical time when children and young people are facing challenges that affect their well-being. The Future Healthy Countdown 2030 aims to highlight these issues, help shape policy decisions, and shine a spotlight on progress,” Professor Goldfield said.

“Issues such as increasing mental health difficulties, childhood poverty, and access to quality education demand a more coordinated and joined-up approach in policymaking.”

Kevin Kapeke, Lead, Social Connection and Mental Wellbeing at VicHealth and co-author of the supplement’s paper on youth participation, said we need to strengthen young people’s power in decision-making, addressing the fact that only 8% of 15-19-year-olds participate in political groups and activities.

"Young people deserve to contribute to decisions that affect their future. We need to address power imbalances, break down barriers and give them the agency to help shape policies for their wellbeing,” Kevin said.

About us:

Notes to editor:

Future Healthy Countdown 2030 is based on the Nest wellbeing framework, created by AustralianResearch Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), which outlines six domains (valued, loved, and safe, material basics, healthy, learning, participating, positive sense of identity and culture) as a way of thinking about the whole context of a child's daily life and the elements they need to thrive.

Contact details:

Edwina Pearse at Jackson Pearse m) 0417 303 811 e)

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