In Australia, state and territory governments are responsible for statutory child protection. Each responsible department assists vulnerable children who have been, or are at risk of being, abused, neglected or otherwise harmed, or whose parents are unable to provide adequate care and protection.
In 2020–21, about 178,800 children aged less than 18 years received child protection services. These include investigations (which may or may not lead to substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect), care and protection orders and/or out-of-home care placements. This equates to a rate of 32 per 1,000 children.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening situation, call 000.
If you wish to report a child protection matter, contact the department responsible for child protection in your state or territory.
When a department responsible for child protection is contacted regarding allegations of child abuse, 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). Investigations aim to obtain more detailed information and 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.
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 state and territory administrative data sets and is reviewed annually to improve data quality and comparability. The 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 was Australia’s first long-term plan to promote and enhance the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children. A successor plan, Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021–2031, was released 10 December 2021.
Web report |
15 Jun 2022
54% of children aged 0–17 in out-of-home care are placed with relatives or kin
58 per 1,000 Indigenous children and young people aged 0–17 are in out-of-home care
74% of Indigenous children aged 0–17 in care have a cultural support plan
Between 2016–17 and 2020–21, emotional abuse remained the most common primary type of substantiated abuse or neglect
Between 2016–17 and 2020–21, the rate of children subject to notifications increased from 43 to 52 per 1,000
Of the approximately 5,400 children reunified, nearly 1 in 3 (31%) were Indigenous children
More reports and statistics on child protection can be found under Adoptions and Children & youth.
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