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Child protection in Australia
Child protection quick facts 2011–12
Collecting national data on child protection
How do I report a child protection matter?
In Australia, statutory child protection is the responsibility of state and territory governments. Each state and territory department responsible for child protection provides assistance to vulnerable children who are suspected of being abused, neglected or harmed, or whose parents are unable to provide adequate care or protection.
Each state and territory has different legislation, policies and practices surrounding statutory child protection, but the broad processes are similar.
Contacts made to authorised departments by persons or other bodies making allegations of child abuse or neglect, child maltreatment or harm to a child are called 'notifications'. Notifications are assessed to determine whether an investigation is required, if referral to support services is more appropriate, or if no further protective action is necessary.
The aim of an investigation is to obtain more detailed information about a child who is the subject of a notification and to determine whether the notification is 'substantiated' or 'not substantiated'. A substantiation indicates there is sufficient reason to believe that a child has been, is being, or is likely to be, abused, neglected or otherwise harmed.
The relevant department will then attempt to ensure the safety of the child through an appropriate level of continued involvement, including the provision of support services to the child and family. This can also include placing the child on a care and protection order and/or into out-of-home care.
For more information on the processes of child protection across Australia refer to the latest Child protection Australia report.
Over 170,000 children were the subject of a notification of suspected abuse or neglect (just over 3%, or approximately 1 in 29 children).
Of all notifications, 46% were further investigated while the remaining 54% were dealt with by other means, such as being referred to a support service.
In 2011-12 there were around 37,700 children in substantiated abuse or neglect cases. This was around 1 in 135 children aged 0-17 years.
In 2011-12, children aged under 1 year were most likely to be the subject of a substantiation (13.2 per 1,000 children) and those aged 15-17 were least likely (3.2 per 1,000 children).
Emotional abuse was most the common substantiated abuse type, followed by neglect and physical abuse. Sexual abuse was more common among girls; other types of abuse were slightly more common among boys.
Across Australia, almost 41,000 children were on a care and protection order at 30 June 2012.
Over 9,400 children were discharged from a care and protection order in 2011-12.
Of these children, 42% had been continuously on an order for less than 12 months; 20% of had spent between 2 and 4 years on an order, and almost 10% had spent over eight years.
Nationally, just over 39,600 children were in out-of-home care at 30 June 2012.
Of these children, 44% were in foster care, 47% were living with relatives/kin and 5% were in residential care.
Indigenous children are over-represented across the child protection system compared with non-Indigenous children. In 2011-12, Indigenous children were:
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare collaborates with states and territories to manage the national child protection data collection. This collection is drawn from the state and territory administrative data sets. It is reviewed annually to improve data quality and comparability.
The national collection provides comprehensive statistical information on state and territory child protection and support services, and some of the characteristics of the children within these systems. States and territories provide annual data for seven national child protection sub-collections:
Further details including collection specific information and statistics are available in the latest Child protection Australia report.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening situation call 000.
If you wish to report a child protection matter, contact the department responsible for child protection in your state or territory directly:
Tel. 132 111www.community.nsw.gov.au/docs_menu/preventing_child_abuse_and_neglect/reporting_suspected_abuse_or_neglect.html
Tel. 131 278 (after hours emergency)www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/crisis-and-emergency/reporting-child-abuse
Tel. (07) 3235 9999 or 1800 177 135 (after hours and weekends)www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety/protecting-children/reporting-child-abuse
Tel. 1800 622 258a/h: (08) 9223 1111 or 1800 199 008www.dcp.wa.gov.au/Organisation/contactUs/Pages/ContactUs.aspx
Department for Education and Child Development
Tel. 131 478 www.dcsi.sa.gov.au/pub/tabid/485/itemid/1433/default.aspx
Tel. 1300 737 639www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/children/child_protection_services
Tel. 1300 556 729www.dhcs.act.gov.au/ocyfs/services/care_and_protection
Tel. 1800 700 250www.childrenandfamilies.nt.gov.au/Contacts/index.aspx