Valuing and Protecting Children

While many children and young people in Australia are doing well, it is a matter of deep national concern that over 40,000 children suffer abuse and neglect each year.

The number of children in out-of-home care—that is, in foster, relative and other forms of non-parental care—has almost doubled over the past decade to around 41,000.

Despite growing investment in child protection, children and young people in out-of-home care continue to have significantly poorer educational, health and wellbeing outcomes compared with other children.

Additionally, many hundreds of thousands of Australian adults were raised in institutions as children in the 20th century. Many of these people suffered abuse and neglect.

Families Australia strongly supports the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 which is seeking to improve the safety and wellbeing of all Australian children and efforts to assist ‘Forgotten Australians’ who suffered abuses as children in institutions and other forms of out-of-home care.

National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020

Families Australia has been at the forefront of efforts to devise Australia’s first-ever national policy roadmap to tackle child abuse and neglect—the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

The National Framework is based on a strong leadership role by the Federal Government as well as an innovative tripartite approach to implementation through a partnership between the Federal Government, all State and Territory Governments and the NGO sector.

In 2007, Families Australia led in establishing, and continues to coordinate, the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing (the ‘National Coalition’), which is Australia’s largest grouping of NGOs and researchers working in the area of children’s wellbeing and protection, to assist on the National Framework.

Read more about protecting children and the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020:

A signature project of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, the Child Aware initiative is a local community capacity building project that aims to address risk factors for child abuse and neglect.

The initiative comprises three main elements:

  • The good practice guide to Child Aware Approaches: Keeping children safe and well, a publication by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Child Aware Local Initiative, under which Families Australia and the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia have activated seven pilot sites around Australia to develop local plans of action to promote child safety and wellbeing. Read more.
  • Child Aware Approaches Conferences, annual national forums for practitioners, researchers and policy advisers to share innovative and practical ways of working with families, children and communities. Read more.

Families Australia’s campaign for a national approach to protecting children began in 2003 with the publication of materials concerning child abuse and neglect in Australia. In 2004, it convened a National Summit on Child Protection. In 2006, Families Australia established a working group to develop recommendations arising from a 2005 Australian Senate report on child protection and a subsequent Commonwealth Government-funded national conference on child protection, which was chaired by Families Australia. The subsequent National Child Protection Strategy was presented to all major national political parties in early 2007. In mid-2007, Families Australia established the National Coalition of Organisations Committed to the Safety and Wellbeing of Australia’s Children. In 2009, Australia’s then Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, and all State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers, under the aegis of the Council of Australian Governments, formally adopted the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020—Australia’s first nationally agreed policy aimed at reducing rates of child abuse and neglect. Key documents are as follows:

Forgotten Australians

Forgotten Australians is the name most commonly used to describe the group of people who, as children, were raised in orphanages, Children’s Homes, institutions or other forms of out-of-home care in the 20th Century.

In 2004, an Australian Senate inquiry revealed a history of neglect and cruelty, of abandonment and exploitation that left approximately 500,000 Australians, as well as many child migrants, physically and psychologically scarred.

Families Australia strongly supports the calls by Forgotten Australians for greater recognition and support for the maltreatment that many suffered, including redress.

A national peak body—the Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA)—was established in 2007 with Families Australia’s assistance. In 2014, AFA became independently incorporated.

Read more about issues facing Forgotten Australians: