Stocktake of data sources for childhood injury in NSW

Stocktake of data sources for childhood injury in NSW


Project Members - Macquarie University

Rebecca Mitchell

Associate Professor

Project Main Description

Injury is the leading cause of death and of hospitalisation for children aged 1 to 16 years in Australia.  Each year around 68,600 children aged 16 years or less are hospitalised with an injury in Australia.  Childhood injury costs the health system around $212 million per year – all of which is largely preventable.

To monitor the extent of child injuries, injury surveillance is conducted which involves collecting information on the how, what, when and why an injury occurred.  This information is then used to design injury prevention strategies, and to evaluate the success of those strategies over time.  Successful injury prevention strategies for children have involved: baby capsules and booster seats in motor vehicles, child-resistant caps on medications, ceasing the sale of flammable sleepwear, and having well-maintained fencing around backyard swimming pools.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended data to be collected for injury surveillance.  However, within Australia, child injury surveillance is conducted using a number of data collections, such as presentations to emergency departments, hospital admissions, police reports, or insurance claims.  Many of these data collections were designed for administrative purposes, such as service monitoring, rather than to perform injury surveillance, and often do not collect all the information recommended by the WHO.

A recent stocktake in New South Wales of child injury surveillance capabilities identified that none of the 16 data collections reviewed collected all of the information the WHO recommended for injury surveillance.  Of particular concern, was that none of the data collections had the ability to easily identify unexpected injuries from new products.  This is a problem when new toys or products are introduced into Australia.  Previously, several children were poisoned while playing with Bindeez beads by the chemical used to coat the beads called gamma-hydroxybutyrate.  The problem with Bindeez beads was identified by vigilant emergency department clinicians, rather than through routine injury surveillance channels.

While injury prevention has been a priority health area in Australia for over 30 years, it is disappointing that there is currently no national child injury prevention strategy in Australia that considers injury surveillance capabilities.  The development and evaluation of child injury prevention strategies relies upon having good quality and timely information available from injury surveillance.


Please read the final report here

Project Supporters

NSW Ministry of Health


Mitchell R. Testa L. (2017). Child injury surveillance capabilities in NSW: Informing policy and practice.  Public Health Research & Practice Journal, 7 (4) e2741734.

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Project Status


Content owner: Australian Institute of Health Innovation Last updated: 04 Oct 2018 9:46am

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