approved carer: An approved carer is anyone authorised under a relevant state or territory legislation, including third-party parental orders, to have full or partial parental responsibility and/or care responsibility for a child or young person. For children or young people placed in out-of-home care this includes carers:

  • who have undergone the relevant screening/selection and approval process, and
  • who have received authorisation from the relevant department or agency to enable a child or young person to be placed in their care, including carers who have received provisional authorisation, and
  • for whom reimbursement is available from a government authority or non-government organisation for expenses incurred in caring for the child or young person who is part of an ongoing review process.

care and protection order: A legal order or arrangement that gives child protection departments some responsibility for a child’s welfare.

emotional abuse: Any act by a person having the care of, power over, or association with a child that results in the child suffering any kind of significant emotional deprivation or trauma. Children affected by exposure to family violence would also be included in this category.

employee of a responsible care service/agency or government department: An employee includes any salaried or otherwise remunerated individual, or volunteer who undertakes work, either directly or through a contract arrangement, for a care service/agency or government department responsible for child placements in out-of-home care or under care and protection orders, for casefile management, or for carer approval and review processes. This definition does not include approved carers.

living in the household: Persons (other than the approved carers) are deemed to be ‘living in the household’ if they permanently, usually or occasionally reside (or intended to reside) in the household or care facility. Such persons could include carers’ partners, family members (for example, siblings) or children in care in the same placement.

neglect: Any serious omission or commission by a person having the care of, power over, or association with a child which, within the bounds of cultural tradition, constitute a failure to provide conditions which are essential for the healthy, physical and emotional development of the child.

out-of-home care: Overnight care for children aged less than 18 years who are unable to live with their families due to child safety concerns. This includes placements approved by the government department responsible for child protection 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). This includes legal (court ordered) and voluntary placements, as well as placements made for the purposes of providing respite for parents and/or carers.

This excludes:

  • children on third-party parental responsibility orders
  • children on immigration orders
  • supported placements for children aged 18 years or older
  • pre-adoptive placements and placements for children whose adoptive parents receive ongoing funding due to the support needs of the child
  • children who enter and exit a funded out-of-home care placement on the same day
  • placements solely funded by disability services, psychiatric services, specialist homelessness services, juvenile justice facilities, or overnight child care services
  • children who are self-placed without approval for the placement by the government department.

person held responsible: A person held responsible is someone assessed as being responsible for an abusive act (including acts of commission or omission). For instances of abuse of children in care, the person held responsible is someone who is the approved carer, another person living in the household or care facility (including other children), an employee of the responsible care service/agency or government department or a person not living in the household (only where an approved carer or employee of the responsible care service/agency or government department failed to protect the child or their action/inaction contributed to the abuse).

physical abuse: Any non-accidental physical act inflicted upon a child by a person having the care of, power over, or association with the child.

sexual abuse: Any act by a person having the care of, power over, or association with a child under 18-years of age which exposes the child to, or involves the child in, contact or non-contact sexual activity that is illegal, results in harm, or is likely to result in harm to the child. Non-sexual activities, deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, to lower the child’s inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity with the child also constitute a form of child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse can be perpetrated by an adult, another child or a group.

substantiation: Alleged incidents are classified as ‘substantiated’ where there has been found reasonable cause to believe that the child has been, was being, or is likely to be abused or otherwise harmed. Substantiation does not necessarily require sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution and does not imply that treatment or case management was, or is to be, provided. Substantiations may also include cases where there was a ‘failure to protect’ a child by someone with parental authority, or where there was no suitable caregiver, such as children who have been abandoned or whose parents/carers are deceased.

third-party parental responsibility order: Legal order transferring all duties, powers, responsibilities and authority to which parents are entitled to by law to a nominated person(s) whom the court considered appropriate. The nominated person may be an individual such as a relative or an officer of the relevant state or territory department.

type of abuse: 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 one type of abuse 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. See also physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.