Decisions affecting society must be weighed carefully in case they have an adverse effect on children's development, says one of the world's leading paediatricians. Dr John Yu, who was named the 1996 Australian of the Year, is acknowledged as the driving force behind what is widely regarded as the world's top paediatric institution, the New Children's Hospital in New South Wales. He received the Australian of the Year award for outstanding achievements in his field. 'Very often the real needs of children aren't really thought through as well as they could be,' Dr Yu told guests at a recent luncheon in Hong Kong given by the Australian Chamber of Commerce. Dr Yu, whose concern for children extends beyond medicine, said he felt that Australia should make a more comprehensive review of children's needs. He strongly believes that society should make children a priority for consideration whenever any far-reaching decision was made. 'This should always be the case, whether the decision is about health, access to cultural facilities and resources, or about legislation and policy affecting the whole spectrum of our lives,' Dr Yu said. As an Australian born in China, and smuggled overseas at the age of three when Nanjing fell to the Japanese in World War II, Dr Yu has dedicated his life to children's health and welfare. An expert in the decorative arts, Dr Yu has used his many talents and skills to help create a unique environment in the new hospital, combining art, colour and open space. Dr Yu sees a strong future role for Australian medicine in helping Asia-Pacific nations to develop their health education programmes. 'I wish to make a contribution not only to the young people of my country, but also to the needy children of the world,' he said.