How Australia can invest in children and return more

A new look at the $15b cost of late action
Youth Early intervention services Social services Social security Government expenditure Australia

The number of children and young people experiencing serious issues in Australia is alarming and increasing. The purpose of this report is to:

  • reveal how much Australian governments spend every year because children and young people have reached crisis point
  • highlight the opportunity of earlier and wiser investment in children to improve the lives of young Australians while reducing pressure on government budgets.

Five organisations from the business, philanthropy, not-for-profit and research sectors have come together to identify and explain the human and economic cost to Australia of not stepping in early to support children and young people experiencing difficulties.

The analysis was led by the Early Intervention Foundation and replicates their method and approach to measuring the cost of late intervention in the United Kingdom (UK) (EIF, 2015, 2016 & 2018). Our report calculates annual expenditure on the acute, statutory and essential benefits and services provided by government that become necessary once children or young people are experiencing serious issues. It is one of the first national reports that calculates spending by Commonwealth and state and territory governments across multiple issues and portfolios, including health, justice, human services and welfare. Specifically, it focuses on the issues faced by children and young people:

  • that result in distress for themselves, their families and their community
  • that incur significant costs for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments; and
  • where it is clear that, by providing effective support earlier, there is the opportunity to change pathways or outcomes for children and young people.


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