Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Report links child abuse, homelessness and juvenile crime

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Julie Collins MP, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Minister for the Status of Women

Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Brendan O’Connor, and Minister for Community Services and the Status of Women, Julie Collins, today welcomed new research which sheds a light on the risks faced by vulnerable young people.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Children and young people at risk of social exclusion: links between homelessness, child protection and juvenile justice, looked at young people who had a substantiated child protection notification, completed juvenile justice supervision, or received homelessness services in Tasmania and Victoria.

“This report found important links between child abuse and neglect, homelessness and juvenile crime,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Almost 15 per cent of young people under juvenile justice supervision had been homeless in the year before their most recent supervision, and eight per cent in the year after.

“And six per cent of those with a substantiated child protection notification had been homeless before notification and seven per cent after, compared with about one per cent of young people aged 10 years and older in the general population.

“This research shows the significance of the Government’s commitment to halving the rate of homelessness by 2020.

“The federal Labor Government has made tackling homelessness a national priority and has invested an unprecedented $20 billion in homelessness and affordable housing services and initiatives since coming to office.”

Ms Collins said the research highlighted the importance of acting early to protect children and young people from abuse and neglect.

“There is extensive research showing there is a strong connection between children who suffer abuse and neglect and engagement in criminal activity and homelessness,” Ms Collins said.
“This research also shows that young women are at an even greater risk, with twice as many women receiving homelessness support in the month after leaving juvenile justice supervision as young men.

“Young women with a substantiated child protection notification were also more likely than men to receive homelessness support in the 24 months following notification.

“Eradicating violence against women and their children is a key priority for the Australian Government.

“The Second Action Plan 2012–15 of the National Framework for the Protection of Australia’s Children 2009-2020 is an important mechanism achieving close collaboration between governments, the non-government sector and the community to reduce child abuse and neglect.

“We have also developed the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22, a single, unified strategy that brings together government efforts to reduce violence against women, with a strong focus on prevention.

“The Gillard Government has committed $86 million to initiatives under the Plan to improve the lives of women who have experienced violence, and most importantly to stop violence from occurring in the first place.

“Research like this is important in building an understanding of the pathways of vulnerable young people and making sure we develop effective and efficient policy that best meets their needs.”