Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Child Protection Figures Too High

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today expressed his concern with the growing number of child protection cases being reported in Australia.

Child Protection Australia 2002-03, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that the number of child protection notifications increased in all jurisdictions in 2002-03 except in Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Mr Anthony said.

There is a disturbing upward trend across Australia in the number of children on care and protection orders which has increased from 4.3 to 4.6 for every 1000 children since the 2001-02 report.

Across Australia the rate of Indigenous children on care and protection orders was six times the rate for other Australian children.

In 2002-03 rates of children in out-of-home care increased, ranging from 3.3 in every 1000 in Western Australia to 5.4 for every 1000 in New South Wales. Indigenous children in out-of-home care was nearly seven times the rate of other Australian children.

Mr Anthony said child protection legislation, policies and practices differ among the States and Territories and work is being undertaken by the Community Services Ministerial Council to try and get some uniform reporting.

I am also working with the States and Territories on the National Plan for Foster Children, Young People and their Carers.

Ultimately child protection is the responsibility of the State and Territory Governments. There have been numerous inquiries done into child protection, the latest being the investigation conducted by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission.

It is time State and Territory Governments commit the resources to ensure the wellbeing of Australian children. If not the Australian people will hold them accountable, Larry Anthony said.