The federal government has announced a plan to screen three-year-olds for mental illness on top of other health checks from July 1.
The new Healthy Kids Check program comes as part of the $2.2 billion mental health reform package that looks to evaluate children for heart, eyesight and other physical health issues.
Carried out over the next five years, the $11 million project will help to identify approximately 27,000 children who would benefit from extra support.
Data from the federal government's Private Health Insurance Ombudsman indicates that one in five Australians will experience some form of mental illness in their lives.
According to federal health minister Mark Butler, while there is always the danger of misdiagnosis, the program aims to prevent mental illnesses – 50 per cent of which start in childhood.
"Parents can be confident that when they go to a GP or a practice nurse in a GP surgery to check that just before their child starts pre-school or steps into primary school, that they're developing in a way that we all hope and expect that they will be," he told AAP sources on June 10.
"The experts who have been designing this tool have made it very clear that their overriding objective has been to do no harm … to provide a positive opportunity to families to take their children at that critical time of three years of age."