Substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect on the rise in Queensland

5 August 2014

Substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect on the rise in Queensland

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released on 25 July 2014 shows an increase in substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in Queensland, and nationally.

In the 12 months of 2012-13, there were 40,571 Australian children the subject of substantiated abuse and neglect, a 29% increase from 31,527 in 2010-2011. In Queensland, the number of children confirmed as abused or neglected rose to 7,149 from 6,974 in 2011-2012.

The report also shows that emotional abuse and neglect remain the most common types of substantiated abuse nationally, and the most likely types of co-occurring abuse or neglect. In 2012-13, there were 15,464 substantiated cases of emotional abuse, 38.3% of all substantiated cases. Neglect still remains high, with 11,303 confirmed cases, 28% of all cases.

In 2012-13, there were 135,000 children (a rate of 26.1 per 1,000 children) receiving child protection services (investigation; care and protection order; and/or placed in out-of-home care). More than half (56%) of these children were subject only to an investigation (that is, they were not subsequently placed on an order or in out-of-home care) while 8% were involved in all three components of the system.

Child protection Australia 2012–13 represents a significant milestone in national child protection reporting as it is the first time that unit record level data have been available for analysis and reporting.

This has allowed the inclusion in the report, for the first time, of a number of previously unavailable analyses – specifically, unique counts of children receiving child protection services in each jurisdiction; the number of substantiations per child; co-occurring types of abuse and neglect; socioeconomic status; and ‘average day’ measures.

Act for Kids Executive Director of Programs, Research and Education, Dr Katrina Lines said the figures are strongly linked to socioeconomic problems which can only be addressed at a national level.

“Most parents love their children, but when stress, tiredness, lack of skills, information and support combine it can be overwhelming for some families. Child abuse and neglect is never justifiable, as a community we need to ensure parents have the information, skills and support they need to be the best parents they can be.

“State, territory and federal governments fund a number of programs that help families at risk and children who have experienced trauma from abuse and neglect, but it’s not enough. Often the programs they fund can only help children and families referred by government departments and we know thousands slip through the cracks.

“The need for early and intensive support is larger than governments can fund, so many organisations like Act for Kids try to raise funds to provide extra support services. It’s a community responsibility; children are the most vulnerable members of our society. We need early intervention and support services working to a national plan – that’s where the focus needs to be.

“Governments have a responsibility to investigate and assess reports of abuse and neglect, and to make decisions in the best interests of children. They can’t do that unless people report their concerns about a child’s safety and wellbeing. We encourage people to be aware and to report concerns; we are all responsible for protecting children and young people,” Dr Katrina Lines said.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Child protection Australia 2012–13. Child welfare series no. 58. Cat. No. CWS 49. Canberra: AIHW. http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129547965

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