What is abuse in care?

In the context of state and territory child protection systems, 'abuse in care' refers to the abuse of children (including those at risk of abuse) aged under 18 who are in out-of-home care, on third party parental responsibility orders, or on other orders that transfer full or partial parental responsibility for the child to an authority of the state or territory. It can involve physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

States and territories have different processes, data systems and record keeping methods for substantiations of abuse in care, which substantially impacts the comparability of data across jurisdictions. As such, abuse in care reporting may include instances where the person held responsible is:

  1. the approved carer
  2. another person living in the household or care facility, including other children
  3. an employee of the responsible care service/agency or government department
  4. a person not living in the household, where a person in (a) or (c) failed to protect the child, or the action or inaction of a person in (a) or (c) contributed to the abuse.

This report includes data on cases of abuse in care where:

  • A substantiation was recorded between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022. This may include historical cases where the abuse occurred before 1 July 2021. Historical cases may include children who were in care at the time the abuse occurred, but subsequently exited care before the date of the substantiation (for example, the 2021–22 substantiations data may include children who exited care before 2021–22).
  • The child was aged under 18 at the time of the abuse. This may include cases where the child was older at the date of substantiation.