How many children received child protection services?
In 2020–21, about 178,800 children received child protection services (Figure 2.1), a rate of 32 per 1,000 children aged less than 18 years.
Of children receiving child protection services in 2020–21:
- 120,800 were the subject of an investigation (21 per 1,000)
- 72,700 were on a care and protection order (13 per 1,000)
- 56,900 were in out-of-home care (10 per 1,000).
The services provided to children depend upon their individual circumstances. Following investigation, some cases of child abuse/neglect may require subsequent interventions, such as a care and protection order and/or out-of-home care placement. In other cases, an investigation may determine a child is safe at home and not require any further intervention.
Figure 2.1: Children receiving child protection services, 2020–21 (number)
- Children might be involved in more than one component of the system. As such, the components do not sum to the total children receiving child protection services.
- Children might be the subject of multiple investigations and decisions to substantiate or not substantiate within the reporting period. But the numbers reported for ‘children who were the subjects of substantiations’ and ‘children who were the subjects of non-substantiated cases’ are mutually exclusive – children can be counted only for the highest level of intervention provided in the period (that is, substantiation or not a substantiation).
- Refer to the Glossary for definitions.
Sources: Tables 2.2, 4.2 and supplementary data tables S3.3, S5.1, S5.2, and T2, AIHW Child Protection Collection 2020–21.
|State or territory||Children who were the subject of an investigation of a notification (number)||Children on care and protection orders (number)||Children in out-of-home care (number)||Children receiving child protection services (number)||Children who were the subject of an investigation of a notification (number per 1,000)||Children on care and protection orders (number per 1,000)||Children in out-of-home care (number per 1,000)||Children receiving child protection services (number per 1,000)|
- The number of children who were the subject of an investigation is not comparable across jurisdictions due to differences in the way jurisdictions collect and report data on notifications, investigations and substantiations. See Appendix A for more information.
- ‘Children receiving child protection services’ is defined as one or more of the following occurring within the reporting period: being subject to an investigation of a notification, being on a care and protection order, or being in out-of-home care. It is not a total count of these 3 areas; it is a count of unique children across the 3 areas.
- See Technical notes for the method used to calculate rates. For jurisdiction-specific footnotes, see Table 2.2 in the Child protection Australia 2020–21 data tables.
Sources: AIHW Child Protection Collection 2020–21; Table P1.
As children may receive a combination of child protection services, there are links and overlaps between:
- notifications, investigations, and substantiations
- care and protection orders
- out-of-home care.
In 2020–21, 58% of 178,800 children receiving child protection services were the subject of an investigation only, and nearly one-quarter (24%) of children were both on an order and in out‑of‑home care (Figure 2.2). Overall, 6.8% of children were involved in all 3 components of the system.
The degree of overlap across the system components varied little between 2018–19 and 2020–21 (AIHW 2019, 2020, 2021).
Figure 2.2: Children receiving child protection services, by component of services received, 2020–21 (per cent)
Source: Supplementary data table S2.1, AIHW Child Protection Collection 2020–21.
Children receiving child protection services who were the subject of an investigation only represented a large proportion of the activity in the child protection system. Maltreatment was not substantiated for 58% of these children (Table 2.3).
|State or territory||Substantiated (number)||Not substantiated (number)||Total children in finalised investigations (number)||Substantiated (per cent)||Not substantiated (per cent)||Total children in finalised investigations (per cent)|
- The data presented in this table are not comparable across jurisdictions due to differences in the way jurisdictions collect and report data on notifications, investigations and substantiations. See Appendix A for more information.
- This table includes data for children whose only contact with child protection services during 2020–21 was an investigation. It excludes those who had an investigation and involvement in another area of the system, such as care and protection orders and/or out-of-home care. The data about investigation outcomes are further restricted to include only those for whom an investigation was finalised in the reporting period, therefore excluding investigations in process, or closed with no outcome possible. Data for all children were the subject of substantiations are available in Supplementary data table S3.3.
- For jurisdiction-specific footnotes, see Table 2.3 in the Child protection Australia 2020–21 data tables.
Source: AIHW Child Protection Collection 2020–21.