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More than 135,000 Australian children, or about 26 in every 1,000 children, received child protection services in 2012-13, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
'For the first time, our report Child protection Australia: 2012-13, contains data on the total number of children receiving child protection services in each jurisdiction, where previously we could only report children according to each type of intervention, and were not able to identify children receiving multiple services,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear.
Also included for the first time are data on the number of substantiations per child, types of abuse and neglect that often occur together, socioeconomic status, and measures of how many children were receiving services on an 'average day'.
'This is a major step toward improved and expanded national reporting for child protection.'
Children who received child protection services were those who were the subject of an investigation; on a care and protection order; and/or in out-of-home care.
In 2012-13, more than half (56%) of children who received child protection services were subject only to an investigation (that is, they were not subsequently placed on a care and protection order orin out-of-home care), while 8% were involved in all three categories (investigation, care and protection order, and out-of-home care).
'Overall, Indigenous children were 8 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be receiving child protection services (150.9 per 1,000 children compared with 18.5 for non-Indigenous children),' Dr Kinnear said.
After investigation, a notification to a department is considered 'substantiated' when it is concluded that the child has been, is being, or is likely to be abused, neglected, or otherwise harmed.
'Between 2010-11 and 2012-13, there was a 29% increase in the number of children who were the subject of substantiations, rising from 31,527 to 40,571,' Dr Kinnear said.
Neglect and emotional abuse were the most common primary types of substantiated abuse.
Many children (42%) who were the subjects of substantiations were from areas of lowest socioeconomic status, and 1 in 5 children were the subject of more than one substantiation in 2012-13.
In situations where further intervention is required, the state/territory department may apply to the relevant court to place the child on a care and protection order or in out-of-home care.
From 30 June 2009 to 30 June 2013, the rate of children on care and protection orders rose from 7.0 to 8.2 per 1,000 children. The rate of children in out-of-home care at 30 June also rose between 2009 and 2013-from 6.7 to 7.8 per 1,000 children.
On an average day in 2012-13, there were 23,354 households authorised to provide out-of-home care placements. Most of these households were authorised to provide foster or relative/kinship care.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.
Canberra, 25 July 2014
Further information: Dr Pamela Kinnear, AIHW, tel. 02 6249 5096 mob. 0421 600 377
Full publication: Child protection Australia: 2012-13