- 49,721cases of child abuse and neglect were reported to and investigated by State and Ter ritory Welfare Departments during the period 1 July 1990 to 30 June 1991. Of these, the assessments of 46,769 cases were finalised.
- In 20,868 of the finalised cases (45% of finalised cases), the occurrence of child abuse or neglect was substantiated. In a further 3,043 cases (7%), the occurrence was not substantiated, but the child was assessed as being at risk. There were 21,288 cases (46%) in which no abuse or neglect was found. However, the proportion of cases substantiated is underestimated and and the proportion of cases not substantiated overestimated, as some substantiated cases in Victoria where the harm was minimal and where there was no continued risk to the child were not included in the 'Substantiated' category. See page 5 for further information.
- 18,273 children were involved in the substantiated cases and a further 2,545 children were assessed as being at risk. Combined, this represents a rate of 4.9 cases per 1,000 children aged 0-16 years. The highest rates of substantiated abuse and neglect occurred with children aged 14 years (6.2 cases per 1,000) followed by children aged 4 years (5.5) and children under 1 year of age (5.2). Very young children (aged under 1) suffered a higher rate of emotional abuse (1.7 per 1,000) and neglect (2.1 per 1,000) than older children. Rates of physical abuse and sexual abuse, however, were higher for young teenagers than for children of other ages (1.9 cases of physical abuse and 2.1 cases of sexual abuse per 1,000 children aged 14 years).
- Girls were the subjects in the majority (75%) of sexual abuse cases; both sexes were the subjects in a nearly equal number of cases of neglect, physical abuse and emotional abuse.
- The number of substantiated cases was similar for each of the three types of abuse (physical, emotional and sexual) and neglect, with physical abuse the largest (5,479 cases) and sexual abuse the smallest (5,072 cases).
- A parent or guardian was identified as the person believed to be responsible for the abuse or neglect in 64% of substantiated cases. Persons other than relatives or friends and neigh bours were identified in 22% of cases. Friends or neighbours were believed responsible in 8% of cases and siblings and other relatives in 6% of cases.
- Reports of child abuse and neglect came mainly from friends or neighbours (18% of finalised cases) or parents (14%). The major source of reports of child abuse and neglect varied between the States/Territories. The most common source of reports was a friend or neighbour in Queensland, NSW, WA, and ACT, school personnel in SA and Tasmania, hospital and health personnel in NT, and the police in Victoria.