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The report, How Australia can invest in children and return more, found an increasing number of Australian children and young people were requiring crisis, or late intervention, services to help deal with serious life challenges such as unemployment, obesity, homelessness and mental health issues. The report found these late intervention services cost Australian governments $15.2 billion every year – a bill which could be avoided if help was provided sooner.

Telethon Kids Institute director Jonathan Carapetis said the report shone an important national spotlight on the importance of the early years.

“One in five children in Australia starts school with a developmental vulnerability,” Professor Carapetis said.

“Research shows the first three years of a child’s life are crucial to their development and provide the foundation for a happy, healthy future.

The report’s launch at Parliament House in Canberra in October 2019 illustrated the scale of the potential benefits from early intervention in Australia and called for policy reform to enable a smarter and more targeted evidence-based approach to early intervention.

Members of Parliament from across the country attended the launch, emceed by ABC Insiders host David Speers.

CoLab Director of Policy David Ansell said there had been growing interest from Australian Governments in early intervention in the life course to prevent later social and economic costs.

“However, until now, there has been a lack of alignment from children’s advocates,” Mr Ansell said. “We hope this unprecedented collaboration and important research can provide a tangible catalyst for a consistent and coordinated advocacy about the benefits of early intervention.”