More Australian children in out-of-home care

The number of children in out-of-home care in Australia continues to rise-by more than 3000 children over the last three years, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Child Protection Australia 2001-02 shows that the number of children either placed with relatives, or in foster or residential care has increased from 15,674 in 1999 to 18,880 in June 2002.

Co-author of the report, Helen Johnstone, said that the increases occurred in all States and Territories except the Northern Territory.

'About 90% of all these children are living with relatives, or foster carers or in some other home-based arrangement-rather than in facilities such as family group homes or residential care.'

Child Protection Australia 2001-02 also shows that the number of substantiated child protection cases rose more than 3,000 in the last year-from 27,367 substantiated cases in 2000-01 to 30,473 cases in 2001-02. The rise was largely due to increases in New South Wales and Queensland.

Almost 138,000 notifications of child abuse and neglect or harm were made to State and Territory community services departments in Australia during 2001-02.

There was also an increase in the number of children on care and protection orders.

Co-author of the report, Ms Helen Johnstone, said 20,557 children were on care or protection orders in June 2002 compared with 17,811 children in June 1999.

'These figures suggest there are growing numbers of children whose families are considered to be unable to provide adequate care or protection for them.'

Overall, Indigenous children were over-represented in the child protection system.

'The rate of Indigenous children on care and protection orders was nearly six times the rate for other Australian children,' Ms Johnstone said.

2 April 2003


Further information: Ms Helen Johnstone, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1157, or 0407 915 851 (mobile)
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032