Effective universal child and family health services can influence a range of health, development and wellbeing outcomes of Australian children and their families. Determining the specific outcomes services impact upon is difficult, given the universal nature of service delivery and the range of other factors that affect outcomes.
Selected National Headline Indicators for Children’s Health, Development and Wellbeing that most closely relate to the outcomes sought by universal child and family health services have been adopted in the Framework as provisional outcome measures.
The Headline Indicators  are a set of national, jurisdictionally-agreed priority areas for children’s health development and wellbeing with accompanying indicators that are reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare biannually and every four years in the publication. A Picture of Australia’s Children. These indicators and the associated Headline Indicator data collection system, provide a starting point to measure the impact of the Framework.
Table: Outcome measures for universal child and family health services
|Priority area||Headline Indicator|
|Infant mortality||Mortality rate for infants less than one year of age|
|Breastfeeding||Proportion of infants exclusively breastfed at four months of age|
|Immunisation||Proportion of children on the Australian Childhood Immunisation|
Register who are fully immunised at two years of age
|Overweight and obesity||Proportion of children whose BMI score is above the international cut-off|
points for ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ for their age and sex
|Dental health||Mean number of decayed, missing or filled teeth (dmft/DMFT) among|
primary school children
|Social and emotional wellbeing||No indicator identified|
|Injuries||Aged-specific death rates from all injuries for children aged 0-4, 5-9 and|
|Attending early childhood|
education and care programs
|Proportion of children attending an early educational program in the|
two years prior to beginning school
|Transition to primary school||Proportion of children entering school with basic skills for life and|
|Child abuse and neglect||Rate of children aged 0-12 who were the subject of child protection|
substantiation in a given year
|Family social network||No indicator identified|
The selected outcome measures are high level outcomes and conceptualised at a population level. It is not suggested that there is a direct causal effect between services provided by universal child and family health services and the selected Headline Indicators. However, when measured and monitored over time these indicators will provide information about the health and wellbeing of Australian children and families and whether outcomes are improving over time. Increasing the availability of comparable outcome data at the population level has the potential to also inform service planning, coordination and delivery at the local level.
Some of the selected Headline Indicators in Table 10 are more closely or proximally related to the work of universal child and family health services. The following have been identified as medium term indicators of the Framework:
- Increase in the proportion of children exclusively breastfed to four months.
- Increase in the proportion of children who are fully immunised at age two years.
- Increase in healthy weight of preschool-aged children.
- Increase in children who have no dental caries (dmft/DMFT)
- Increase in proportion of children who are identified early and receive attention to child health, developmental and wellbeing needs.
- Increase in proportion of children experiencing a positive transition to primary school (that is if children with developmental needs are identified and addressed early they are more likely to experience a positive transition).
- Increase in families with identified needs who are receiving social support.
- Reduction in infant mortality.
- Reduction in death from avoidable injuries.
- Increase in the proportion of children who attend early childhood education for one to two years prior to school entry.
- Reduction in the number of children who are the subject of substantiations of child abuse and neglect.
- Improved social and emotional wellbeing of Australian children and families.