One in 35 children now involved with child protection services
The rate of children receiving child protection services in Australia continues to rise, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), with one in every 35 children now receiving support from child protective services.
The report, Child protection Australia 2017–18, presents statistics on state and territory child protection and family support services. It shows that around 158,600—or 1 in 35—children received child protection services in 2017–18. Over half (56 per cent) of these children were investigated but not subsequently placed on a care and protection order or in out-of-home care.
Between 2013–14 and 2017–18, the rate of children who were the subjects of substantiated abuse rose from 7.2 to 8.5 per 1,000 children. The rate of children on care and protection orders also rose, from 8.7 to 10.1 per 1,000 children, and the rate for children in out-of-home care rose from 8.1 to 8.2 per 1,000 children.
Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, of children who received child protection services were ‘repeat clients’ – that is, those who had previously been the subject of an investigation, or discharged from a care and protection order, or out of home care placement, AIHW spokesperson David Braddock said.
Children in receipt of child protection services were those who were the subject of an investigation, following a notification to a child protection agency; those on a care and protection order; and/or those in out of home care arrangements, such as foster or kinship care.
A notification becomes substantiated, Mr Braddock said, when, after an investigation, it is determined that there is sufficient reason to believe a child has been, is being, or is likely to be abused, neglected or otherwise harmed.
Mr Braddock noted that some groups or clusters of children were more likely to receive child protection services than others, such as children from very remote areas, who are four times more likely as children from metropolitan areas to be the subject of substantiated abuse.
First Nations children were eight times more likely to receive child protection services compared with their non Indigenous peers, and six times more likely to receive a substantiated claim of risk, abuse or neglect. The rate for Indigenous children receiving child protection services rose from 140 to 164 per 1,000 children between 2013–14 and 2017–18.
‘A range of factors could be contributing to the rising rate of children receiving protection services among both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. Increased public awareness and reporting, legislative changes and inquiries into the child protection processes all play a part, as well as potential rises in the rate of child abuse and neglect,’ Mr Braddock said.
Alongside the AIHW child protection report, a second report has today been issued, seeking to better understand children’s experiences in out of home care, using survey data from a sample of children aged eight to 17.
The views of children and young people in out-of-home care, overview of indicator results from the second national survey, 2018, found two in three children in care (66 per cent) reported that they usually get a say in what happens to them, and people usually listen to what they say.
‘This survey provides important insights into how children in out-of-home care are faring, and helps governments, policymakers and service providers better understand what matters to them and what changes can be made to improve their experiences in out-of-home care,’ Mr Braddock said.
Each report is linked above, and can be found on the AIHW website, here.