How are we going to improve child safety?

Last month, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released the latest edition of Child protection Australia, the annual Australian Government publication that charts how our nation is performing in terms of protecting children.

The figures made distressing reading. Substantiations of child abuse in 2014-15 rose to over 42,000, a 64 per cent increase in numbers in less than two decades. The trends on other indicators, such as the numbers of children in out-of-home care follow a similar trajectory.

In my speech to a Families Australia policy forum at the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies in Sydney this week, I shared some thoughts about our collective national responses to the parlous state of child safety in Australia.

I argued that we have made important advances over the past decade or two in terms of understanding the dimension of the problem and seeking ways to enhance our systems, including through the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

Yet, faced with continued problems in child protection, I asked whether these things were enough to turn the situation around. I shared some ideas about how we might undertake cultural and systems transformation, as distinct from technical fixes of existing systems. These ideas are meant to contribute to thinking about ways ahead. Families Australia will continue to facilitate wide-ranging conversations about these matters going forward. The text of my speech is here.

Dr Brian Babington, CEO