Australian Children rank low in Health and Education

Edited by Nelly T.

A new UNICEF report titled the ‘Fairness of Children’ was released in Thursday revealing Australia ranked 27th out of 35 in health equality outcomes among OECD countries and 24th our of 37th in education equality results.

Australia is failing to give all children the best start in life said Mega Mitchell National Children’s Commissioner.

“UNICEF’s report highlights the widening gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle,” she said. “The report asks challenging questions for Australia’s policy makers on how to address the needs for our most valuable children.”

Poverty in Australia could have serious repercussion for children according to the Australian Council of Social Services.

602,604 children are living below the poverty line out of an estimate of 2.5 million Australians. Concurring with estimates carried out by the Australian Child Wellbeing Project roughly 22% of children aged between 13 and 14 years old reported suffering from psychosomatic health problems daily.

In education, 9.1% of 15-year-olds failed to achieve the basic levels of reading, maths and science literacy in the latest round of PISA tests.

Yet the federal government is still stubborn in its refusal to fund the final two years of the needs-based Gonski reforms despite being faced with the data. The reforms target schools in the lowest socio-economic areas.

The federal government offered the states $2.9 billion in health funding but no increased investment in schools, at the April Council of Australian Governments meeting, a move that could see the $4.5 billion allocated to the final two years of Gonski education funding slashed.

The research revealed concerning trends said Nicole Breeze, UNICEF Australia’s director of policy and advocacy.

“The report raises some very stark questions about government policy. Australian children are falling too far behind at the bottom end against some key international measures,” she said.

Since the 1980s risks of poverty have been shifting towards youth from the elderly, across the OECD, the gap between rich and poor is at its highest level in three decades.

According to the report, Australia performed relatively well in terms of income and slife satisfaction equality.

“But the size of Australia’s economy suggests that the outlook for Australian children could be significantly better.” Ms Breeze said.

“Australia must place equity at the heart of our child well-being agendas and the ‘leave-no-one-behind’ principle should form the foundation of future social strategies,” she said.