The number of Australian children on care and protection orders, in out-of-home care and who are subject to a notification of child abuse or neglect, has increased since 2008 according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
'Over the past year, the number of children on care and protection orders and the number of children in out-of-home care increased by almost 10%,' said Kate Valentine of the Institute's Child and Youth Welfare Unit
In 2008 there were almost 35,500 children on a care and protection order and just over 34,000 children in out-of-home care, the majority of whom were either in foster care (47%) or living with relatives (45%).
'Although there appears to have been a real rise in children needing protection, other factors may have contributed, including greater community awareness, a broadening of what governments regard as child abuse or neglect, and changes in child protection policies and practices,' she said
The report, Child protection Australia 2008-09, showed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be over-represented in the child protection system, with the rate of Indigenous children in out-of-home care over nine times the rate of their non-Indigenous counterparts.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were more than eight times as likely to be on a care and protection order.
'The reasons for the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system are complex and can involve factors such as the intergenerational effects of previous separations from family and culture and poor socioeconomic status,' Ms Valentine said
The report also showed that states and territories provided a range of 254 intensive family support services across 267 locations in 2009.
These services aim to benefit families by improving their ability to care for children and strengthen family relationships.