Number of children receiving protection services continues to rise, three-quarters repeat clients

The number of children receiving child protection services continues to increase, and most of these children were repeat clients, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows.

The report, Child protection Australia 2014–15, shows that almost 152,000 children received child protection services in 2014–15, that is, had an investigation, care and protection order and/or were placed in out-of-home care.

'This was a 6% rise over the past 12 months, from about 143,000 children in 2013–14, and represents 1 in 35 Australian children aged 0–17,' said AIHW spokesperson Mark Cooper-Stanbury.

The report also shows that almost three-quarters (73%) of children receiving child protection services were repeat clients in 2014–15; that is, they had been the subject of an investigation, care and protection order and/or out-of-home care placement in a previous financial year.

Over 60% of children receiving child protection services were the subject of an investigation only, and were not subsequently placed on an order or in out-of-home care, while 8% were involved in all 3 components of the system.

'Emotional abuse and neglect were the most common primary and co-occurring types of abuse and neglect substantiated in 2014–15,' Mr Cooper-Stanbury said.

From 2011 to 2015, the rate of children aged 0–17 on care and protection orders rose from 7.7 to 9.1 per 1,000, while over the same period, the rate of children in out-of-home care increased from 7.4 to 8.1 per 1,000.

'There were over 48,700 children on a care and protection order and almost 43,400 children in out-of-home care at 30 June 2015,' Mr Cooper-Stanbury said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 7 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be receiving child protection services (146.4 per 1,000 children compared with 20.5 for non-Indigenous children).

The report also shows that there were almost 13,000 foster carer households and over 18,000 relative/kinship carer households with a placement in 2014–15. Just over half (52%) of foster carer households and almost two-fifths (39%) of relative-kinship carer households had more than one child placed with them at 30 June 2015.

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, 21 April 2016

Further information: Mr Mark Cooper-Stanbury, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1251 mob. 0418 271 395