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What is life like for children and young people in Australia today? 

 Many children in Australia are happy, healthy, and thriving. But this is not the story for every child or young person. The COVID-19 pandemic has both exposed and worsened the divisions that already existed between the children who do well, and the ones who don’t.  

The Australian Children’s Wellbeing Index by UNICEF Australia and  ARACY helps us to understand the lives of children and young people. It tells us what we need to do now and into the future to make sure every child can reach their full potential. 


Where does Australia stand?  

Children and young people in Australia have good life expectancy from birth, most receive a good education and graduate from high school, and they have friends and family they can count on. However, we are still lagging behind in child protection and poverty. 

What Australia is doing well 

4 in 5

More than 4 in every 5 children attend preschool.

4 in 5

About 4 in every 5 young people report feeling able to have a say among family and friends on important issues.


91 per cent of children are fully immunised at age 2.

What Australia needs to improve 

1 in 6

About 1 in 6 children live below the national poverty line.

7 in 125

7 in 125 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are in out of home care.


Almost 95 per cent of children do not meet the daily recommended intake of vegetables.

We need to do better for ALL our children and young people. 

The Australian Children’s Wellbeing Index is a framework to

  • show what life is like for children and young people aged 0 to 24 in Australia. 
  • track progress on children’s rights and wellbeing. 
  • influence decision-makers to make Australia among the best places to grow up.
A teenage girl holds a chalkboard which says "Equal educational opportunities in remote areas
A teenage girl holds a chalkboard which says "Equal educational opportunities in remote areas"

How we built the index 

The Australian Children’s Wellbeing Index is built on UNICEF Children’s Goals and the Nest, Australia’s evidence-based framework for child and youth wellbeing.  

UNICEF Children’s Goals is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Every child survives and thrives 
  • Every child has a fair chance in life  
  • Every child is protected from violence and exploitation  
  • Every child lives in a clean and safe environment 
  • Every child learns 

The Nest presents holistic wellbeing as six interdependent domains. A child or young person needs to be doing well in all six domains in order to thrive.  

  • Valued, Loved and Safe – children have trusting relationships with family and friends 
  • Material Basics – children live in suitable housing with appropriate clothing, nutritious food, clean water and clean air. 
  • Healthy – children have their physical, mental, and emotional health needs met. 
  • Learning – children and young people learn through a variety of experiences within the classroom, the home and the community in which they live.  
  • Participating – children and young people having a voice, are listened to and have a say in decisions that impact them. 
  • Positive Sense of Identity and Culture – children feel safe and support to express their identify and have a sense of belonging.  

Ways you can use the Australian Children’s Wellbeing Index:  

  • Develop better data for and with children. 
  • Set bolder goals and benchmarks for community, regional and national progress for children. 
  • Advocate for children – influence decision-makers to make Australia among the best places to grow up. 
  • Design solutions - policies, investments, programs and practices that address our greatest challenges - and measure their impacts. 
  • Track progress toward commitments including the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • Do all of this with input from children and youth.