The Australian Early Development Census data shows 22 per cent of Australian children have physical, social, emotional, cognitive or learning difficulties.
The Australian Early Development Census data shows 22 per cent of Australian children have physical, social, emotional, cognitive or learning difficulties.

Focus on Coffs kids not immigration, urges child expert


A LEADING pediatrician says Australia is "squandering" children's futures by failing to recognise the high rates of youngsters with health and learning difficulties.

Child Development Network director Michael McDowell said he was surprised by Australian Early Development Census data that shows 22 per cent of Australian children have physical, social, emotional, cognitive or learning difficulties.

The census shows 22.7 per cent of Coffs Harbour children have physical, social, emotional, cognitive or learning difficulties.

Dr McDowell said the data was a good barometer of how local children were tracking in terms of their development but he was worried it had not gained traction with policy makers.

He said by the time the children arrived in school their development was too far behind for a quick fix.

"There is a huge emphasis in Australia on issues like immigration and the environment but no one is really standing up and talking about issues in early childhood," Dr McDowell said.

"I regard the squandering of early childhood as 1000 times bigger than things like immigration.

"It is a complete vacuum in this area."  - NewsRegional