Child protection overview
In Australia, state and territory governments are responsible for statutory child protection. Each responsible department assists vulnerable children who have been, or are at risk of being, abused, neglected, or otherwise harmed, or whose parents are unable to provide adequate care or protection.
Children and young people are those aged under 18. This includes unborn children in jurisdictions where they are covered under the child protection legislation.
Across Australia, the broad processes in child protection systems are similar. A simplified version of the main processes is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Child protection process in Australia
- Shaded boxes are items for which data are collected nationally.
- Dashed lines indicate that clients might or might not receive these services, depending on need, service availability, and client willingness to participate in what are voluntary services.
- Support services referred to in the box on the right include family preservation and reunification services provided by government departments responsible for child protection, and other agencies. Children and families move in and out of these services and the statutory child protection system, and might also be in the statutory child protection system while receiving support services.
This report presents the latest available data on Australia’s child protection systems. It brings together information from states and territories on the provision of child protection services and the characteristics of children who receive protective services.
As a result of issues experienced by jurisdictions, there are some data limitations for this report. For further information, please see Child protection Australia 2018–19.