A Picture of Children and Young People - Data and Indicators
A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People complements the work being undertaken nationally and within jurisdictions across Australia to measure outcomes for children and young people.
This report incorporates nationally recognised indicators of children and young people’s health, wellbeing, learning and development together with ACT specific indicators. The outcomes of these indicators are potentially amenable to change over time through the implementation of prevention and early intervention strategies. The aim of reporting, monitoring and utilising this information is to lead to better outcomes for children and young people.
The investment in the collection and analysis of data provides the ACT Government and the community with an opportunity to reflect on the areas where children and young people are doing well and identify areas where we can improve by assisting with the development of responsive policy, programs and services within the ACT.
This is the sixth year the ACT Government has compiled key data on the health, wellbeing, learning and development of ACT’s children and young people in one report. There are 51 indicators reported in the 2016 publication, an increase of 14 additional indicators which will assist the ACT Government’s ability to measure the health and wellbeing of ACT children and young people.
The human services system is the network of supports that respond to a person’s needs. This can include services relating to public/social housing, health and wellbeing, education, disability, care and protection and justice.
The way that human services in the ACT are delivered is changing — for the better — under the Human Services Blueprint (the Blueprint). This is a plan, developed by community and government that will guide how services and supports are provided so that people get the best outcomes for their circumstances.
The Blueprint is being rolled out through the Better Services initiatives of Strengthening Families, OneLink and the West Belconnen Local Services Network.
For further information see www.betterservices.act.gov.au/home
A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People (A Picture) was the reporting mechanism for the ACT Children’s Plan and the ACT Young People’s Plan which both ceased in 2014. To reflect the ACT Government's continuing commitment to prioritising the health and wellbeing of our children and young people, the ACT Children and Young People’s Commitment 2015–2025 (the Commitment) was developed and released in December 2015.
The Commitment is a high-level strategic document that sets a vision for a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to promote the rights of children and young people (aged 0 to 25 years) in the ACT.
The Commitment identifies six priority areas that provide guidance to the Canberra community on how to assist children and young people to reach their potential, make a contribution and share the benefits of our community. A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People will act as the reporting mechanism for the key priority areas which will allow the ACT Government to track the progress of the priority areas and support informed policy and program development. The six priority areas are as follows:
- implement policy that enables the conditions for children and young people to thrive
- provide access to quality healthcare, learning and employment opportunities
- advocate the importance of the rights of children and young people
- keep children and young people safe and protect them from harm
- build strong families and communities that are inclusive and support and nurture children and young people
- include children and young people in decision making, especially in areas that affect them, ensuring they are informed and have a voice.
The inaugural report, released in 2011, highlighted that most children and young people in the ACT were faring well. This trend has continued and remains constant with the current release for 2016. The report continues to highlight areas where ACT children and young people are faring well and potential areas where health and wellbeing gains could be made. These are detailed below.
Children and Young People
- The proportion of women who smoked during pregnancy has decreased significantly from 15.4 per cent in 2004 to 5.7 per cent in 2013.
- The number of children and young people who were the subject of a mental health treatment plan in the ACT increased from 9,482 in 2014 to 10,423 in 2015. This means more children and young people have a mental health treatment plan and are receiving treatment and support to address their mental health issues.
- The number of children enrolled in a preschool program in the ACT has continued to increase from 5,060 children in 2012 to 6,839 children in 2015.
- The prevalence of tobacco use in secondary students in the ACT has decreased steadily over time. This is most obvious in the ‘ever smoked’ category, which dropped from 55.7 per cent in 1996, to 18.9 per cent in 2014. During the same period, the proportion of current smokers decreased from 20.4 per cent to 5.2 per cent, and daily smokers from 9.2 per cent to 1.4 per cent.
- Since 1999 there has been a decline in reported alcohol consumption among secondary students. In 1996, 89.7 per cent of students surveyed reported that they had consumed at least a few sips of alcohol in their lifetime, compared to 71.6 per cent in 2014. The number of students who reported drinking in the last week was 29.1 per cent in 1996, compared to 12.1 per cent in 2014. In 1996 the proportion of students who drank at single-occasion risky levels was 8.2 per cent compared to 5.0 per cent in 2014.
- Since 1996, there has been a statistically significant decline in students reporting having used at least one illicit substance in their lifetime. However, between the two most recent reporting periods, this figure rose slightly but statistically significantly, from 12.7 per cent in 2011 to 16.2 per cent in 2014.
- The rate (per 100,000) of young people charged with a criminal offence in the ACT has declined from 2,531 in 2011–12 to 1,328 in 2014–15. The rate in 2014–15 is less than half the rate of 2010–11 (2,738).
- The rate (per 10,000) of young people who were under youth justice supervision during the year for 2014–15 (40.6) continues the decreasing trend since the peak rate in 2010–11 (70.5).
- The number of young people under community-based supervision in the ACT decreased from 239 in 2009–10 to 139 in 2014–15. The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people also continued its decrease from a high of 60 young people in 2011–12 to 36 young people in 2014–15.
- Compared to the national average, the ACT has a lower percentage of children developmentally vulnerable as shown by the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) in each of the five domains, except physical health and wellbeing.
- From 2012 to 2015, there was a significant increase in the percentage of ACT children developmentally vulnerable on the AEDC in the social competence (8.6 per cent to 9.4 per cent), emotional maturity (7.2 per cent to 8.2 per cent) and language and cognitive skills domains (3.9 per cent to 5.9 per cent).
Families, Kinship and Networks
- From 2006 to 2011 the proportion of one-parent families not in the labour force has increased by 5 per cent. The proportion of couple families with children with both parents unemployed has increased by 4 per cent.
- The total gross mean household income spent on housing costs in 2013–14 in the ACT was 13 per cent, compared to 14 per cent nationally. This was a one percentage point decrease in the ACT from 2011–12.
- There were 755 children and young people in the 2011 Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness who were classified as being homeless on Census night (an increase of 400 since 2006).
- In 2011, 21 per cent of all children and young people were living in a low income household in rental stress, an increase from 19 per cent in 2006 and 15 per cent in 2001.
- In 2015, 341 children and young people were reported as being victims of family violence related offences (down from 368 in 2014).
- The number of young people aged 18–24 years who were victims of family violence related offences was down from 228 in 2014 to 168 in 2015.
- The number of students accessing special education programs at either mainstream or specialist schools has increased by 22 per cent from 2,449 in 2012 to 2,981 in 2016. Students with a disability as a proportion of all VET students aged 18–24 years increased from 6.9 per cent in 2011 to 10.3 per cent in 2015.
Community, Environments and Services
- In 2006, the volunteer rate of young people aged 18–24 years in the ACT was 28.9 per cent. In 2010, this rate had increased to 35.2 per cent and was one of the highest volunteer rates nationally. In 2014, the ACT volunteer rate was 29.6 per cent compared to 26 per cent for Australia.
- The proportion of ACT families who attended a cultural venue or event in the preceding year was higher than the average Australian attendance but lower than the previous (2009–10) results.
- The number of families accessing coordinated, locally-based services by a Child and Family Centre decreased slightly in the most recent reporting period, from 1,863 (in 2013–14) to 1,675 (in 2014–15).
- The 2015–16 Market Attitude Research Services Survey indicated that visits to neighbourhood parks continued the increasing trend of usage from 67 per cent in 2011–12 to 91 per cent in 2015–16.
The regular monitoring and reporting of significant indicators for ACT children and young people is vital to establish baseline data to set targets for improvement and track changes on how children and young people are faring over time. It also assists with the establishment of benchmarks to guide and develop integrated whole-of-government responses to issues for children and young people. This will result in the early identification of emerging needs, trends and indicators of concern.
Ensuring that data evidence and research is used to inform and improve decision making, policy development and service delivery is critical both across government and community in the ACT. This publication can assist in prioritising effort into identified areas requiring improvement.
Background to the ACT Children and Young People Outcomes Framework
A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People uses the ACT Children and Young People Outcomes Framework (Outcomes Framework) to measure children and young people's health and wellbeing.
This Outcomes Framework reflects the ecological perspective of development and highlights the key protective, risk and other known factors that may impact on children and young people’s health and wellbeing. The interplay between and accumulation of these protective and risk factors during childhood and adolescence has a significant impact on outcomes, both in the short term and over the course of a lifetime.1
The Outcomes Framework focuses primarily on outcomes for children and young people and includes indicators focused upon physical health and mental wellbeing, development in the early years, education and healthy and pro-social behaviours. The achievement of positive health, wellbeing, learning and development outcomes in childhood and adolescence is a rich interplay between the relationships and environments in which children and young people grow up. The most significant influence on children and young people is their family. The communities children, young people and their families live in also have an influence, by providing the resources and environments for families to thrive. In recognition of the importance of families and communities, outcomes for these key areas are also reflected in the Outcomes Framework.
A review of the Outcomes Framework was undertaken to align it with the new ACT Children and Young People’s Commitment 2015–2025 (the Commitment) which was released in December 2015. Fourteen new indicators have been identified to strengthen and broaden the scope of the Outcomes Framework’s coverage of development and wellbeing measures for children and young people in the ACT. These indicators were identified as the best available means of measuring the Commitment’s priorities.
The ACT Children and Young People outcomes framework
Framework outcomes and indicators
Within each layer of influence around a child or young person we can identify outcomes that support positive health, wellbeing, learning and development. Assessing performance against these outcomes is actioned by measuring components—or indicators—over time. Performance data can inform future policy, programs and services.
Outcomes at the children and young people layer of influence
Factors we measure
Outcome 1: Optimal physical health and wellbeing
Outcome 2: Optimal development in the early years
Outcome 3: Educational engagement and success
Outcome 4: Adopt healthy and pro-social lifestyles
Outcomes at the family, kinship and informal network layer of influence
Outcome 1: Access to sufficient material wellbeing
Outcome 2: Free from abuse and neglect
Outcome 3: Individual needs of families are recognised and supported
Outcomes at the community, environments, networks and formal services and broader economic, policy, political, social and environmental layer of influence
Outcome 1: Local recreation spaces, activities and community facilities
Outcome 2: Family support services to meet the needs of parents
Outcome 3: Supportive and connected communities
About this report
The following symbols are used in this report:
The ACT Children and Young People Outcomes Framework provides a conceptual map of outcomes and indicators relating to the health, wellbeing, learning and development of children and young people.
A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People 2016 has three parts:
- Part one—reports on indicators relating to children and young people
- Part two—reports on indicators related to families, kinship and networks
- Part three—reports on indicators relating to communities, environments and services.
Most of the indicators contained in the report outline how the ACT is progressing over time. Included for each indicator is a description, rationale for the indicator’s inclusion and an evaluation of how the ACT is faring. The symbols shown have been used to represent how the ACT is performing over time.
Data in this report has been sourced from a variety of ACT Government and national datasets. While many of the indicators have new data from 2015, some of the indicators present the same data from previous years as the data is collected periodically rather than annually. For these indicators, new data will be presented when available.
Four of the indicators have no new data for the reporting period as one data source will no longer be ongoing, one is a new indicator with data currently being collated and two other indicators use a data source which is available on a five-yearly basis.
Data has also been disaggregated (where possible) by age (or age cohort), gender, disability status, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background and ACT region to provide a more detailed picture of children and young people.
The selection of data on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are faring in this report has been prioritised by the targets set in the Closing the Gap2 reform. As the ACT is a small jurisdiction, data cannot be reported for some of the indicators due to the small numbers which could lead to identification.
An overview of ACT’s children and young people
How many children and young people live in the ACT?
As of June 2015 there were an estimated 385,397 people living in the ACT and 127,149 (33 per cent) were children and young people aged 0 to 24 years.3 Amongst children and young people aged 0 to 24 years, 2.9 per cent identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.4
Figure 1: Proportion (%) of estimated ACT resident population, by age group, June 2015
Figure 2: Proportion (%) of the estimated resident population who were aged 0–24 years in each Australian state and territory, June 2015
Where were parents of ACT’s children and young people born?
In the ACT, 61 per cent (65,697) of children and young people (aged 0–24 years) were identified as having both parents born in Australia. Sixteen per cent (17,126) of children and young people indicated that both parents were born overseas and 23 per cent (24,094) indicated that one parent was born overseas.
Figure 3: Ancestry of dependent children aged 0–24 years, ACT 2011
Data source: ABS, Census, 2011.
Where do ACT’s children and young people live?
The districts with the highest estimated number of children and young people aged 0–24 years in 2014 were Belconnen (32,243) and Tuggeranong (29,630). The districts with the highest proportion of residents aged 0–24 years were Gungahlin (36.7 per cent), Cotter-Namadgi (34.4 per cent), followed by Tuggeranong (34.1 per cent) and Belconnen (33.3 per cent).
TABLE 1: Total number and proportion (%) of estimated district population, by age group in the ACT, June 20146
What were the changes to where children and young people live?
The districts with the largest percentage change in the number of 0–24 year olds between 2009 and 2014 were Cotter-Namadgi (227.4 per cent) and Gungahlin (47.7 per cent). These increases relate to land release and development and for the Cotter-Namadgi region, this very large increase in population growth was due to development following the Canberra bushfires in 2003. The largest decline is in Tuggeranong (-12.1 per cent). The percentage changes in the number of females and males were strongest in Cotter-Namadgi (269 per cent and 199 per cent respectively) followed by Gungahlin (46.0 per cent for females and 49.4 per cent for males).
TABLE 2 Estimated resident population, ACT, by age and sex, 0–24 years, 2009 and 20147
30 June 2009
30 June 2014
Per cent change
Data source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2015, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, Population estimates by age and sex, regions of Australian Capital Territory (ASGS 2011).
Figure 4 Percentage change of 0–24 year olds in each ACT district, 2009–14
Data source: ABS 2015, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, Population estimates by age and sex, regions of Australian Capital Territory (ASGS 2011).