Child protection orders

What are care and protection orders?

If a young person has been the subject of a child protection substantiation (See Child abuse report), there may be a need for further intervention. The relevant department generally attempts to protect the young person through the provision of appropriate support services to the child and family. The department may apply to the relevant court to place the child on a care and protection order. Care and protection orders are legal orders or arrangements that give child protection departments some responsibility for a child’s welfare. Applying to the Court for a care and protection order is usually a last resort – for example where the families are unable to provide safe care, where other avenues for resolution of the situation have been exhausted, or where the extended family is unable to provide safe alternatives for care of young people. The level of departmental involvement that a care and protection order mandates will vary depending on the type of order (For more information, see Child Protection Australia 2013–14). 

Do rates vary across population groups?

At 30 June 2014, in the AIHW Child Protection Data Collection, the national rate of young people aged 12–17 on a care and protection order was 8.8 per 1,000 young people, with no difference between boys and girls. Young people aged 12–14 were more likely to be on a care and protection order (9.5 per 1,000 young people) compared with young people aged 15–17 (8.1 per 1,000 young people).

Indigenous young people were over 7 times as likely as Other Australian young people to be the subject of care and protection orders (49 per 1,000 Indigenous young people compared with 6.5 per 1,000 Other Australians).

Has there been a change over time?

The national rate of young people on care and protection orders increased from 7.4 per 1,000 young people in 2010 to 8.8 per 1,000 in 2014. For Indigenous young people, the rate has increased from 36 per 1,000 in 2010 to 49 per 1,000 in 2014, and increased from 5.8 to 6.5 per 1,000 for Other Australian young people.

What are the living arrangements for young people on care and protection orders?

In 2014, 71% of young people on care and protection orders lived in home-based out-of-home care, while 11.7% lived in residential care, and 7.1% in family care (defined as parents and other relatives/kin who were not reimbursed). Of the young people living in home-based out-of-home care, almost half (49%) were living with relatives/kin (other than parents) who are reimbursed. Around 45% were living in foster care.