Consideration and Noting - Health and Wellbeing of Tasmania's Children and Young People Report 2
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I, too, thank the member for Elwick for bringing on this report. The recently released Health and Wellbeing of Tasmania's Children and Young People Report 2018 provides a valuable resource for individuals, professionals, government and non-government agencies. We have come a long way, but there is still much more work left to do in regard to the health and wellbeing of our children and young people.
There are over 112 646 young people in Tasmania aged between zero and 17 years, representing a quarter of the state's population. It is also interesting to note that half these young people reside in five local government areas, including Launceston.
A number of key findings are detailed within the report, both positive and negative. For example, our young Tasmanians start school with lots of strength, with almost six out of 10 having highly developed strengths, and almost nine out of 10 with good literacy and numeracy skills when they first enter school.
In regard to NAPLAN data, Tasmanian students are at comparable standard for reading and writing to their national counterparts. It also heartening to note there has been a reduction in alcohol consumption, smoking and illicit drug use among our young people. Also, the number of youth offenders in Tasmania aged 10 to 17 fell from above 2500 in 2008-09 to just over 1000 in 2016-17.
The school attendance rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children is above the national rate for Indigenous children, although the report also documents that Aboriginal children in Tasmania are over-represented in the child protection system.
The rate of young people aged 15 to 24 years presenting alone to specialist homelessness services was higher than the rate for Australia, which is a disappointing and worrying figure.
Family violence incidents continue to be significant in Tasmania, with children present in over half the family violence incidents attended by police. It must have quite an impact on young people witnessing family violence incidents and, in some cases, being involved in them.
In conclusion, it is imperative we provide safe and caring environments and opportunities for our children and young people. It is clear more work needs to be done through the primary school-age years and in adolescence. I commend the report and the detailed findings it presents.