If you believe a child is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening situation, call 000.

When a department responsible for child protection is contacted regarding allegations of child abuse or neglect, child maltreatment or harm to a child, this is called a 'notification'. Notifications are investigated to determine the level of intervention required (if any). The aim of an investigation is to obtain more detailed information and to determine whether the notification is 'substantiated' or 'not substantiated'. A substantiation indicates there is sufficient reason to believe that a child has been, is being, or is likely to be, abused, neglected or otherwise harmed.

The relevant department will attempt to ensure the safety of the child through an appropriate level of continued involvement. This may include placing the child on a care and protection order and/or into out-of-home care. The provision of support services to the child and family may also be appropriate.

Some groups of children are over-represented in Australia’s child protection system. For example, Indigenous children are more likely to be the subject of substantiations, on care and protection orders, and in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children. Children from Remote and Very remote areas are more likely than children in Major cities to be the subject of substantiations and/or in out-of-home care.

The AIHW has been the authoritative source of national child protection data and reporting since 1991, providing valuable insights into child safety and child protection services.

The AIHW collaborates with states and territories to manage the national child protection data collection. This collection is drawn from the state and territory administrative data sets. It is reviewed annually to improve data quality and comparability. The national collection provides comprehensive statistical information on state and territory child protection and support services, and some of the characteristics of the children within these systems.

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020 is Australia’s first long-term plan to promote and enhance the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children. The National Standards for Out-of-Home Care are a priority under the National Framework, and have been designed to drive improvements in the quality of out-of-home care. The AIHW publishes data on the indicator sets for the National Framework and the National Standards.