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There was a 6% rise in the number of children in Australia receiving child protection services in Australia in 2013-14, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Child protection Australia 2013-14, shows that around 143,000 children aged 0-17 received child protection services in 2013-14, compared with 135,000 the previous year.

In 2013-14, this was equivalent to 1 in 37 Australian children who had contact with one or more of the three components of the system: an investigation, care and protection order and/or placement in out-of-home care.  About 8% of children were involved in all three components of the system.

'Almost three-quarters (73%) of all children involved in the child protection system were repeat clients in 2013-14', said AIHW spokesperson Justine Boland.

'That is, they had also received child protection services in a previous financial year.'

Around 99,000 children who received child protection services in 2013-14 were subjects of an investigation. For around 41,000 children, the alleged abuse was substantiated, with 1 in 5 of these being the subject of multiple substantiations during the year.

'The substantiation rate was similar to that for the previous year at 7.8 per 1,000 children aged 0-17 in Australia', Ms Boland said.

Emotional abuse was the most common primary type of substantiated abuse (40%), followed by neglect (28%). This was followed by physical abuse (19%) and sexual abuse (14%).

'These figures describe only the primary type of abuse-in reality, children may experience a combination of some or all of these types of abuse,' Ms Boland said.

Around 55,000 children were on a care and protection order, while around 52,000 were in out-of-home care during the year.

Around 93% of children in out-of-home care were in home-based care such as with foster carers or relatives/kin.

Rates of children on a care or protection order, or in out-of-home care, have risen steadily over the last 5 years-from 7.5 to 8.7 per 1,000 and from 7.1 to 8.1 per 1,000 respectively.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 7 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be receiving child protection services in 2013-14.

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, 8 May

Further information: Ms Justine Boland, AIHW, tel. 02 6249 5124; mob. 0412 957 936.

Full publication: Child protection Australia 2013-14