The latest data on three areas of child protection services is to be released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Child Protection Australia 1998-99 shows that while the number of child protection substantiations increased slightly in some States, the total number across Australia fell slightly compared with the previous year.
The rates of children, aged 0 to 16 years, who were the subject of a child protection substantiation ranged from 1.1 per 1,000 children in Tasmania to 6.3 per 1,000 in Victoria. Much of this variation reflects differences in child protection policy and practices across States and Territories.
As at 30 June 1999, 17,811 children were on care and protection orders in Australia. This is an increase on the number of children on care and protection orders at 30 June 1998. Overall, 3.8 per 1,000 children were on care and protection orders in Australia at 30 June 1999.
Of the 8,487 children admitted to care and protection orders across Australia during 1998-99, 42% were aged under 5 years, and 13% aged less than 1 year.
Report author, Helen Johnstone, said that there were 15,674 children in out-of-home care at 30 June 1999, of whom 88% were in home-based care.
'Indigenous children were over-represented among children in child protection substantiations, on care and protection orders and in out-of-home care,' Ms Johnstone said.
'In Western Australia and South Australia, Indigenous children were five times more likely than other Australian children to be the subject of a child protection substantiation.
'And in New South Wales, Indigenous children were 8 times more likely than other children to be on a care and protection order and 9 times more likely to be in out-of-home care.
'Many reasons have been put forward for this over-representation. Among them are poverty, unemployment, parental health problems, and a possible lack of adequate support services for Indigenous families.'