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.
According to data presented in the 2018 Report on Government Services, between FY10 and FY17, the number of children in out-of-home care increased by 32% from 35,895 to 47,915 and child abuse substantiations rose by 58% from 31,295 to 49,315.
Total recurrent expenditure on family support services, intensive family support services, protective intervention services and out‑of‑home care services was $5.2 billion nationally in FY17 (a real increase of 8.5% from FY16) of which out‑of‑home care services accounted for 60% or $3.1 billion. These increases are clearly unsustainable in human and financial terms.
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.
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.
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.
View information on the national campaign on child safety and wellbeing here.
Useful resources about protecting children and the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 can be found here.
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.
Further information on the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing, including membership, can be found here.
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:
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: