Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Child Protection Australia 2007- 08 report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Child Protection Australia 2007-08 report shows that the number of children in out-of-home care in Australia rose by almost 115 per cent over the last decade – from around 14,500 children in 1998 to 31,166 children in 2008.

The report also shows that although substantiated notifications have fallen nationally for the first time in nine years, notifications of suspected abuse and neglect continue to rise.

The continuing high levels of neglect and abuse of Australian children are deeply concerning.

The terrible dimensions of abuse and neglect have made it imperative for the Australian Government to take a leadership role.

While state and territory governments have day to day responsibility for statutory child protection services, the safety and wellbeing of all Australian children is an issue that demands the attention of all levels of government.

For this government the safety, health and wellbeing of children is uppermost. We will use all our available resources to protect children and turn around the high levels of abuse and neglect.

That’s why we are working with the states and territories on a National Child Protection Framework.

We are working closely with non-government organisations, researchers and experts to get a wide range of views in the development of the framework.

The focus of the child protection framework’s development has been on:

  • stronger prevention;
  • better collaboration between services;
  • improving responses for children in care and young people leaving care;
  • improving responses to Indigenous children;
  • attracting and retaining the right workforce; and
  • improving child protection systems

The National Child Protection Framework is expected to be considered by the Council of Australian Governments in coming months.

We have already taken concrete steps to improve the protection of children.

An income management trial giving state child protection authorities the power to recommend the quarantining of income support and family payments to Centrelink has been introduced into selected communities in Western Australia.

We have also improved information sharing between the Australian Government and state and territory child protection agencies to help locate families when there are concerns about a child’s welfare.

Australia’s children deserve a safe, healthy and happy childhood.