At 30 June 1996 there were 13,241 children on care and protection orders in Australia, according to a report to be released on Friday by the AIHW. Children on Care and Protection Orders Australia 1995-96 shows that 8,744 of these children were on guardianship orders, which involve the transfer of legal guardianship of a child to a State or Territory community services department. The number and types of non-guardianship care and protection orders vary from State to State, but do not involve the transfer of legal guardianship of a child.
One of the report's authors, Ms Anne Broadbent, explained that children are placed on care and protection orders as a last resort when other forms of intervention or assistance to the family or child by the community services department have been unsuccessful or are inappropriate. 'Children may be placed on care and protection orders when they have been abused or neglected, or abandoned by their caregiver. They may also be placed on orders when there is an irretrievable breakdown between the parents and the child or when the child is a threat to themselves or others.'
Ms Broadbent warned that 'we need to be careful in interpreting and comparing these statistics. For example , the rates vary considerably from State to State because of differences in legislation, different types and numbers of orders, and different policies and practices in each jurisdiction.'
Other findings of Children on care and protection orders Australia 1995-96 include:
- The number of children on guardianship orders in Australia remained close to the levels of earlier years (around 8,800).
- Children on guardianship orders were more likely to be older than those on non-guardianship care and protection orders
- 24% of children on guardianship orders were aged 15 or older, compared to only 13% of children on non-guardianship orders.
- The majority of children on guardianship orders were living in foster care.
- Indigenous children are substantially over-represented among children on care and protection orders.