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Press release

New analysis by the Early Intervention Foundation highlights the cost of late intervention for children and young people in Australia

Published

15 Oct 2019

Contributor

A new report, 'How Australia can invest in children and return more', has been published today. It finds that Australian governments are spending A$15.2 million (around £8.2bn) each year on acute services for children and young people.

This analysis of the costs of ‘late intervention’ highlights the potential of effective early intervention to reduce the impact of social and developmental problems on individuals, families and communities.1

New analysis of Australian Commonwealth and state government spending was led by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF), who also co-authored the report. It has been published by a consortium of philanthropic, business and research organisations, including CoLab (Collaborate for Kids, a partnership between Telethon Kids Institute and the Minderoo Foundation), The Front Project and Woodside Energy, all based in Australia, alongside the UK-based EIF.

EIF has previously published analyses of the cost of late intervention in England and Wales (in 2016) and Northern Ireland (2018).2 The methods used in those UK reports were adapted for the Australian context, to take account of important differences in the political and fiscal systems of the two countries.3

Tom McBride, Director of Evidence at EIF, says:

"It has been a privilege for EIF to have been invited to work with our Australian partners on this new research. Like all countries, Australia faces a particular set of unique challenges and conditions, but the underlying landscape of social, economic and service-related factors is sufficiently similar to allow us to apply the methodologies we have developed through our UK work to the Australian context. It might be tempting to use this data to draw comparisons between the two countries, but in our view, this data is about Australia specifically and is for Australian leaders and decision-makers to act upon.

“We know that the costs of late intervention can never be reduced to zero – there will always be a need for acute services to deal with unexpected and serious problems. However, this analysis provides a useful illustration of the scale of the potential of early intervention in Australia, to reduce the frequency of problems requiring high-intensity, expensive public services, and their impact on young people’s lives.

“This example of EIF supporting like-minded organisations in Australia is part of our work to continue building the international evidence base for early intervention. If other countries are able to invest in and evaluate the impact of promising programmes and interventions, that provides valuable new data to inform spending and commissioning decisions here in the UK."

David Ansell, Co-Director of Policy at CoLab, says:

“This report is a wake-up call for Australia. We now know Australian governments are spending more than $15 billion every year on services and support for children and young people who are experiencing serious issues. There is a new urgency to get smarter about how we invest in Australian children and young people: we have an ageing population, a declining tax base and increased intergenerational disadvantage. We are asking Australian leaders to prioritise effective early intervention strategies which can change people’s lives for the better and reduce pressures on government budgets over time.

“The role of the Early Intervention Foundation in leading the analysis and co-authoring the report has been critically important. They are international leaders in early intervention and have provided great credibility to the report and its findings. Furthermore, because of similarities in the systems of government in Australia and the UK, EIF has provided us with a headstart in better understanding the kinds of actions and policies that can support Australian children and young people facing adversity.”

*ENDS

Notes:

1. The report is available at: colab.telethonkids.org.au/investinchildren

2. EIF’s previous analyses of the cost of late intervention in the UK are available for England and Wales (2016), at www.eif.org.uk/report/the-cost-of-late-intervention-eif-analysis-2016, and for Northern Ireland (2018), www.eif.org.uk/report/the-cost-of-late-intervention-in-northern-ireland

3. See a blog by EIF analyst William Teager: www.eif.org.uk/blog/calculating-the-cost-of-late-intervention-in-australia

About the contributor

Tom McBride

Tom is director of evidence at EIF.