The safety of children is intrinsically related to the security of their families and communities and the accessibility of appropriate support systems. National data show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts, are over-represented in various aspects of child safety. In particular, Indigenous children have higher rates of hospitalisations due to injury, higher rates of injury mortality and more frequently come into contact with child protection and juvenile justice systems.
Injury and violence
- The injury hospital separation rate among Indigenous children was 1.3 times the rate for non-Indigenous children in 2007–08.
- The leading causes of injury hospital separation for Indigenous children were the same as for non-Indigenous children, although the rates of each were consistently higher for Indigenous children. In particular, the hospital separation rate for assault for Indigenous children was over 5 times the rate for non-Indigenous children.
- In 2003–2007, one-quarter of all deaths among Indigenous children aged 0–17 years were due to external causes of injury. The death rate due to external causes of injury for Indigenous children was almost 3 times the rate for non-Indigenous children.
Child abuse and neglect
During 2009–10, Indigenous children were:
- nearly 8 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated child abuse or neglect
- around 9 times as likely to be on a child protection care and protection order
- almost 10 times as likely to be living in out-of-home care
- most likely to experience neglect in substantiated cases; for non-Indigenous children emotional abuse was most common.
- On an average day Indigenous young people were 15 times as likely to be under juvenile justice supervision as non-Indigenous young people. This over-representation was even higher for those in detention—Indigenous young people were 24 times as likely to be detained as non-Indigenous young people.
- Indigenous young people tend to enter their first period of juvenile justice supervision at a younger age than non-Indigenous young people.
- Indigenous young people spent on average 5 days longer than non-Indigenous young people in unsentenced detention.