Glossary

Term Definition
Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA):  The ARIA provides classification of the level of accessibility to goods and services (such as general practitioners, hospitals and specialist care) based on the proximity to these services (measured by road distance).
administrative arrangement An agreement with a child protection department, which has the same effect as a court order of transferring custody or guardianship. This arrangement can also allow a child to be placed in out-of-home care without going through the courts.
adoption A legal process involving the transfer of the rights and responsibilities for the permanent care of a child from the child’s parent(s) to their adoptive parent(s). The legal relationship between the child and the parent(s) is severed, and any legal rights that existed from birth regarding the birth parent(s)—such as inheritance—are removed. For the adoptive parents, the legal rights of the adopted child become the same as they would be if the child had been born to the adoptive parent(s).
care and protection orders Legal orders or arrangements that give child protection departments some responsibility for a child’s welfare. See also finalised guardianship or custody order, finalised third-party parental responsibility order, finalised supervisory order, interim and temporary order, and administrative arrangement.
children receiving child protection services Children who are:
  • the subjects of an investigation of a notification
  • on a care and protection order; and/or
  • in out-of-home care.
child concern report Report to a community services department about concerns for a child, where there is no indication that a child might have been, or is at risk of being, harmed through abuse or neglect. This might include concerns about a child’s welfare related to the quality of their home environment, or the standard of care that they are receiving.
children subject to orders

Children aged 0–17 on a care and protection order or other formal arrangement, or children aged 18 or under who were discharged from those care and protection orders/arrangements.

dealt with by other means A notification responded to by means other than an investigation, such as by providing advice or referring to services. Notifications dealt with by other means are divided into 2 categories: notification in process and notification resolved without investigation.
disability An umbrella term for any or all of: an impairment of body structure or function, a limitation in activities, or a restriction in participation. Disability is a multidimensional concept, and is considered as an interaction between health conditions and the environment.
emotional abuse Any act by a person having the care of a child that results in the child suffering any kind of significant emotional deprivation or trauma. Children affected by exposure to family violence are also included in this category.
family group homes Homes for children provided by a department or community-sector agency which have live-in, non-salaried carers who are reimbursed and/or subsidised for the provision of care.
finalised guardianship or custody orders Orders involving the transfer of legal guardianship to the relevant state or territory department or non-government agency. These orders involve considerable intervention in the child’s life and that of their family, and are sought only as a last resort. Guardianship orders convey responsibility for the welfare of the child to the guardian (for example, regarding the child’s education, health, religion, accommodation and financial matters). They do not necessarily grant the right to the daily care and control of the child, or the right to make decisions about the daily care and control of the child, which are granted under custody orders.

Custody orders generally refer to orders that place children in the custody of the state or territory department responsible for child protection or non-government agency. These orders usually involve the child protection department being responsible for the daily care and requirements of the child, while the parent retains legal guardianship. Custody alone does not bestow any responsibility regarding the long-term welfare of the child.

Finalised guardianship or custody orders can be long-term orders or short-term orders.

finalised investigations A notification received between 1 July and 30 June of the current financial year that was investigated, the investigation completed and an outcome recorded by 31 August of current financial year. The cut-off point of 31 August is applied to allow time for investigation notifications made close to the end of the previous financial year. The ‘outcomes of finalised investigations’ are classified into 2 categories: substantiated and not substantiated.
finalised supervisory order An order giving the department responsible for child protection some responsibility for a child’s welfare. Under this order, the department supervises and/or directs the level and type of care that is to be provided to the child. A child under a supervisory order is generally under the responsibility of his or her parents, and the guardianship or custody of the child is unaffected. This means finalised supervisory orders are less interventionist than finalised guardianship or custody orders, but require the child’s parent or guardian to meet specified conditions, such as medical care of the child.
finalised third-party parental responsibility order

Order transferring all duties, powers, responsibilities and authority to which parents are entitled by law to a nominated person(s) whom the court considers appropriate. The nominated person may be an individual such as a relative or an officer of the state or territory department. Third-party parental responsibility may be ordered in the event that a parent is unable to care for a child, with parental responsibility then transferred to a relative.

Finalised third-party parental responsibility orders can be long-term orders or short-term orders.

formal shared care Where a case plan exists for children to live in family care, and to have regular planned periods in out-of-home care.
foster care A form of out-of-home care where the caregiver is authorised and reimbursed (or was offered but declined reimbursement) by the state/territory for the care of the child. (This category excludes relatives/kin who are reimbursed). There are varying degrees of reimbursement made to foster carers.
foster care household

A private household containing 1 or more foster carers:

  • who have undergone the relevant screening/selection and approval process
  • who have received authorisation from the relevant department or agency to enable a child to be placed in their care
  • for whom reimbursement is available from the state and territory government for expenses incurred in caring for the child (degrees of reimbursement made to foster carers vary)
  • who are part of an ongoing review process.
home-based out-of-home care Care provided for a child who is placed in the home of a carer, who is reimbursed (or who had been offered but declined reimbursement) for the cost of care of that child. Categories of home-based out-of-home care include: relatives/kin who are reimbursed, foster care, and other home-based out-of-home care.
households commencing care

Includes all carer households that, during the year ended 30 June, received authorisation from the relevant department or agency to enable a child to be placed in their care, regardless of whether a child was placed in their care in that period.

This includes households that received provisional authorisation (which might be to facilitate a placement) while formal approval/registration was being finalised. These households are included only once, at the time of provisional authorisation (and not again when full authorisation is received). Households commencing care for the first time are included. Households whose existing authorisation has been renewed as part of a standard ongoing review process are excluded. Households receiving authorisation to provide respite care only (and not also authorisation to provide general foster or relative/kinship care) are excluded.
households exiting care Includes any carer household that, at some point during the year ended 30 June, where no longer authorised by the relevant department or agency to have a child placed in their care. For example, the carer household might have voluntarily withdrawn/deregistered, or the relevant department or agency might have formally revoked their authorisation. Households changing from provisional authorisation to full authorisation are excluded.
immigration (Guardianship of Children) orders Orders made under the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946. Under this Act, the Minister of Immigration is the legal guardian for unaccompanied humanitarian minors (children under 18 who have entered Australia without a relative to care for them). The minister may assign custody of the child to a willing and suitable person in the jurisdiction where a child lives. The assigned person becomes responsible for all matters concerning the child’s daily activities, care, and welfare. This category captures the arrangements of children who are subsequently placed with carers funded by the departments responsible for child protection.
independent living Accommodation including private board and lead tenant households.
Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD) One of the set of Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas for ranking the average socioeconomic conditions of the population in an area. It is a ranking of the relative advantage or disadvantage of an area that uses a combination of Census variables relating to both advantage and disadvantage including income, education, employment, occupation, and housing.
Indigenous Includes children of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Island descent who identify and are identified as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
intensive family support services Services that aim to prevent imminent separation of children from their primary caregivers because of child protection concerns, and to reunify families where separation has already occurred.
interim and temporary order An order covering the provision of a limited period of supervision and/or placement of a child. Parental responsibility under this order may be with the parents or with the department responsible for child protection. ‘Unfinalised orders’ (such as applications to the court for care and protection orders) are also included in this category, unless another finalised order is in place. In some jurisdictions, interim and temporary orders are put into place while a finalised order is sought.
investigation Investigations are the process whereby the relevant department obtains more detailed information about a child who is the subject of a notification received between 1 July and 30 June of the relevant financial year. Departmental staff make an assessment about the harm or degree of harm to the child and their protective needs. An investigation includes sighting or interviewing the child where it is practical to do so.
investigation closed—no outcome possible An investigation begun for a notification made between 1 July and 30 June of that financial year that was not able to be finalised to reach the outcome of ‘substantiated’ or ‘not substantiated’, and for which files were closed for administrative purposes. This might happen, for example, in cases where the family has relocated.
investigation in process An investigation that began for a notification received between 1 July and 30 June of that financial year, but was not completed nor an outcome recorded by 31 August.
known carer adoption Adoption by the foster parent(s) or other non-relative(s) who had been caring for a child in out-of-home care, and has had responsibility for making decisions about the daily care and control of the child for the relevant period (as specified by the relevant state/territory department) before the adoption.
living arrangement The type of care in which a child on an order was living. See also residential care, foster care, family group home, home-based out-of-home care, and family care.
long term care Children who had been continuously in out-of-home care for 2 or more years.
long-term guardianship carers A carer who has a child placed with them under an order where parental responsibility is transferred to them. See also finalised third-party parental responsibility order.
long-term orders Transfer guardianship/custody to the nominated person for a specified period greater than 2 years; generally until the child reaches the age of 18.
neglect Any serious acts or omissions by a person having the care of a child that, within the bounds of cultural tradition, constitute a failure to provide conditions that are essential for the healthy physical and emotional development of a child.
new client Those children or young people who have never previously been the subject of an investigation, any type of national care and protection order, or funded out-of-home care placement (excluding respite placements lasting less than 7 days) within the jurisdiction.
non-Indigenous Describes children who have not been identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent; this excludes children of unknown Indigenous status.
notifications Contacts made to an authorised department by persons or other bodies making allegations of child abuse or neglect, child maltreatment or harm to a child.
notification in process A notification where the decision to investigate has not been reached.
notification resolved without investigation A notification responded to by means other than an investigation, such as by providing advice or referring to services.
not substantiated A notification where an investigation concluded that there was no reasonable cause to suspect prior, current or future abuse, neglect or harm to the child. See also substantiated.
other out-of-home-care Out-of-home care placements that are not otherwise categorised, including unknown placement types. This includes boarding schools; hospitals; hotels/motels; and the defence forces.
out-of-home care Overnight care for children aged under 18 for which there is ongoing case management and financial payment (including where a financial payment has been offered but has been declined by the carer). See also residential care, family group homes, foster care, relative/kinship care, independent living, other out-of-home care.
permanency planning The processes used by state and territory departments responsible for child protection to achieve a stable long-term care arrangement (which can be broadly grouped as reunification, third-party parental responsibility orders, long-term finalised guardianship/custody/ care, and adoption).
physical abuse Any non-accidental physical act inflicted upon a child by a person having the care of a child.
provisionally approved carer household Households that have received provision authorisations (which might be to facilitate a placement of a child), while formal approval/registration is being finalised. This category is used only for jurisdictions where the type of the provisional authorisation is not recorded until the approval/registration process is finalised.
rate A rate is one number (the numerator) divided by another number (the denominator). The numerator is commonly the number of events in a specified time. The denominator is the population 'at risk' of the event. Rates are generally multiplied by a number such as 1,000 to create whole numbers.
relative kinship care

A form of out-of-home care where the caregiver is:

  • a relative (other than parents)
  • considered to be family or a close friend
  • a member of the child or young person’s community (in accordance with their culture)
  • who is reimbursed by the state/territory for the care of the child (or who has been offered but declined reimbursement).

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, a kinship carer may be another Indigenous person who is a member of their community, a compatible community or from the same language group.

relative/kinship carer household

A private household containing 1 or more relative/kinship carers:

  • who have undergone the relevant screening/selection and approval process
  • who have received authorisation from the relevant department or agency to enable a relative/kinship child to be placed in their care
  • for whom reimbursement is available from a government authority or a non-government organisation for expenses incurred in caring for the child (degrees of reimbursement made to relative/kinship carers vary)who are part of an ongoing review process.
respite care

A form of out-of-home used to provide short-term accommodation for children and young people where the intention is for the child to return to their prior place of residence. Respite placements include:

  • respite from birth family, where a child is placed in out-of-home care temporarily for reasons other than child protection (for example, the child’s parents are ill or unable to care for them temporarily, as a family support mechanism to prevent entry into full-time care, as part of the reunification process, or as a shared care arrangement)
  • respite from placement, where a child spends regular, short and agreed periods of time with a carer other than their primary carer.
reunification A planned process of safely returning and enabling a child to remain at home with their birth parent(s), family, or former guardian after a period of time in care when it is in the child’s best interests to do so, and where it will safeguard the child’s long-term stability and permanency. In practice, reunification tends to be nearly exclusively with birth parents. Also known as restoration.
remoteness classification Each state and territory is divided into several regions based on their relative accessibility to goods and services (such as general practitioners, hospitals and specialist care) as measured by road distance. These regions are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) and defined as Remoteness Areas by either the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (before 2011) or the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS) (from 2011 onwards) in each Census year.
repeat clients Children or young people who have previously been the subject of an investigation; or were discharged (according to national specifications) from any type of national care and protection order or funded out-of-home care placement (excluding respite placements lasting less than 7 days); or whose earliest order and/or placement in the current reporting period is part of a preceding continuous episode of care.
residential care Where the placement is in a residential building whose purpose is to provide placements for children and where there are paid staff.
sexual abuse Any act by a person, having the care of a child that exposes the child to, or involves the child in, sexual processes beyond his or her understanding or contrary to accepted community standards.
short-term orders Orders that transfer guardianship/custody to the nominated person for a specified period of 2 years or less.
socioeconomic status An indication of how 'well off' a person or group is. In this report, socioeconomic status is mostly reported using the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, typically for 5 groups, from the most disadvantaged (worst off) to the most advantaged (best off).
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) A set of indexes created from Census data that aim to represent the socioeconomic status of Australian communities and identify areas of advantage and disadvantage. The index value reflects the overall or average level of disadvantage/advantage of the population of an area; it does not show how individuals living in the same area differ from each other in their socioeconomic status. This report uses the Index of Relative Socioeconomic Advantage and Disadvantage.
source of notification The person or organisation that initially made a child protection notification to the relevant authority. The source is classified according to the relationship to the child allegedly abused, neglected, or harmed. The source of notification is reported under 12 categories: subject child, family, friend/neighbour, medical/health personnel, social worker, school personnel, child care personnel, police, departmental officer, non-government organisation personnel, other source of notification, and not stated.
substantiation Substantiations of notifications received during the current reporting year refer to child protection notifications made to relevant authorities between 1 July and 30 June of the relevant financial year, which were investigated and the investigation was finalised by 31 August, and where it was concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe that the child had been, was being, or was likely to be, abused, neglected or otherwise harmed. Substantiation does not necessarily require sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution and does not imply that treatment or case management was provided. Substantiations may also include cases where there is no suitable caregiver, such as children who have been abandoned or whose parents are deceased.
third-party parental care Placement for children on third-party parental responsibility orders. See finalised third-party parental responsibility orders.
type of abuse or neglect One of the 4 types, or categories, of substantiations: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Each category includes findings of actual harm or significant risk of harm. Where more than 1 type of abuse or neglect has occurred, the substantiation is classified to the type likely to be the most severe in the short term, or to place the child most at risk in the short term, or, if such an assessment is not possible, classified to the most obvious form of abuse or neglect. See also physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.