RFW Position Paper – Supporting Childhood Development in Regional, Rural and Remote Australia
Royal Far West’s experience in over 94 years of supporting Australian children and families bears out the 2015 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) National Report which found that the physical, emotional and social development attained in childhood lays a critical foundation and sets a trajectory for long-term outcomes in health, learning, behaviour and wellbeing. Delays or vulnerabilities in development are linked with poor educational outcomes; functional disability; chronic mental health problems; and a higher risk of unemployment, personal relationship difficulties, contact with the criminal justice system, and homelessness.
On a national scale, supporting childhood development can reduce costs in education, health, criminal justice, and welfare, while increasing income earned and taxes paid. Analysis suggests the economic costs of not halving Australia’s current rate of childhood developmental vulnerability is likely to curb Australian GDP growth by 10% over the next 60 years.
However, with the right support and/or access to early intervention services, developmental vulnerabilities and delays can be prevented or overcome. Children can then achieve ‘typical’ development and reset their trajectory to meet their full potential.