Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Protecting Australia’s children

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today called on all Australians to work together to improve Australia’s rating of the 9th lowest in the number of child deaths from maltreatment across OECD countries by UNICEF.

UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, A League Table of Child Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations was released today.

“The report notes that between, and within, all OECD countries there are major inconsistencies in reporting all forms of child abuse and neglect. This causes difficulties in the comparability of data between countries.

“However, in their analysis Australia rated 9th lowest out of the 27 OECD countries. Of course the death of one child is one too many. While the report shows that from the 1970s to the 1990s child death from maltreatment has declined in Australia, there is no doubt that as a community we have to do better by our children.

“While child protection is a State and Territory Government area to administer, it is important the community recognises it is not an issue owned by Governments. We all have a responsibility to care and protect our children and young people.

“All Australians should share the common goal of making sure that every Australian child has the chance to live a safe, healthy and happy life.

“The report shows that child abuse and neglect is more likely to occur within the family and that mental illness, drug and alcohol problems and low income are the major risk factors.

“The Australian Government is providing significant support and assistance to families. We are of the firm belief that the best way to tackle child abuse is through prevention and early intervention strategies.

“The Prime Minister recently announced funding of $10 million for the first practical steps to be taken through the National Agenda for Early Childhood. Funding will go towards early childhood intervention and prevention programs focussing on early child and maternal health, early learning and care, and supporting child friendly communities.

“The release of UNICEF’s report today serves as another reminder that child protection must be an urgent priority for all Australians. We must all take responsibility to protect our children from harm,” Mr Anthony said.