Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

$1.3 million to improve child protection data

The Australian Government will provide an additional $1.3 million over three years to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to improve the current child protection data reporting system.

Reform to data collection will enable confidentialised unit record data to be collected to deliver a more accurate picture of child abuse and neglect in Australia.

The funding will allow the AIHW to work with state and territory child protection agencies to examine Australia’s current reporting arrangements, commencing with a complete review of the Child Protection Australia report.

Currently the data collection system cannot detect overlap between the number of notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care orders and children in out of home care, resulting in some children being counted multiple times in the figures.

This means it is difficult to measure accurately the number of new children in the system each year.

The proposed new data system will enable the AIHW to analyse the average length of time a child remains in the child protection system, and the proportion of children returning to the child protection system.

The protection and safety of Australian children is one of our greatest responsibilities, and is an important part of the Australian Government’s child-centred approach to the delivery of family policy.

Accurate data collection will be vital to measuring the impact of the Government’s National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.

The issues relating to child protection data have been consistently raised during the course of consultations to develop the framework.

Under current arrangements, it is difficult to know how many children are re-entering the child protection system, or how many of these children and young people may also be in juvenile justice or homelessness systems.

By increasing our understanding of child protection systems, the Government can provide support to the State and Territory Governments in protecting our children.

State and Territory Ministers have agreed to work with the Australian Government on this project.