Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

New report into child protection in Australia

A new report released today confirms the need for all levels of government to continue to work together to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect.

The 15th annual report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child Protection 2010-2011, released today, found a 13 per cent fall in the number of children subject to notifications of possible child abuse or neglect compared with the previous year.

The report also found the number of children on care and protection orders at 30 June 2011 rose by four per cent from the previous year and the number of children in out-of-home care rose by five per cent. However, during the same period, the number of children in substantiated cases was stable, rising by less than one per cent.

Ms Collins said it was heartening to see improvement in some areas of the child protection system but there was much more that needed to be done.

“The Gillard Government is working with state and territory governments and non-government organisations in implementing the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, our long-term approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australian children,” Ms Collins said.

“State and territory governments rightly retain responsibility for statutory child protection, but for the first time, an Australian Government is taking a national leadership role, backed up by $63.1 million investment over four years.

“We have already made significant progress under the National Framework, including the National Standards for Out-of-Home Care which commenced on 1 July 2011.

“The 13 national standards were developed with the states and territories and provide a national benchmark for the care of children who are no longer with their parents, focussing on key areas including access to health, education and training, increased support for carers and enhancing transition planning for all young people,” Ms Collins said.

Through the Framework, we have also achieved:

  • 50 new Indigenous Parenting Support Services
  • Eight new Communities for Children Plus sites for children at risk
  • New information sharing processes between Commonwealth agencies, including Centrelink and Medicare, and state child protection agencies
  • Increased payments for young people leaving care
  • Trialling a new tool to assess the needs of vulnerable children and their families in four communities across Australia.

The AIHW report also highlighted the over representation of Indigenous children in all areas of the child protection system with Indigenous children 7.6 times more likely to be the subject of a child protection substantiation than non-Indigenous children.

“The Australian Government is also working with state and territory governments, as well as non-government organisations, to address the high rates of family violence and child protection in Indigenous communities,” Ms Collins said.

“In response to the Growing them strong, together report about the child protection system in the Northern Territory, we have invested $7.6 million over two years for an additional 15 Mobile Child Protection and 22 Remote Aboriginal Family and Community Workers across the Territory.

“This is in addition to the $7 million we have provided under the Indigenous Family Safety program for 32 Indigenous Family Safety projects which deliver a broad range of services across Australia in 2011-12 including family counselling, education and awareness training, men’s and women’s programs, and advocacy support and referral for victims of family violence.

“Protecting children and their right to live a safe and happy life is one of the most important responsibilities of any government.

“We will continue to build on our progress through the National Framework to improve the lives of all Australian children across the country,” Ms Collins said.