Improving national data on safety in care
This report presents data from a new national data collection on safety in care – a new file of data items included in the Child Protection National Minimum Data Set. The departments responsible for child protection in each state and territory supply data to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for analysis and national reporting.
This new collection was established in response to 3 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Box 1). Although the Royal Commission had a specific focus on sexual abuse, the national data collection also includes physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. Work will continue to enhance and expand the collection and reporting of these data.
To provide a more complete understanding of the complexities of abuse in care, future national reporting may include:
- information about children who were the subject of multiple substantiations and/or had multiple types of abuse in care.
- a ‘best estimate’ of the rate of abuse among all children in care.
- expanded data to progress the Royal Commission recommendations (for example, additional child demographics, further information on when and where the abuse occurred and who perpetrated the abuse, along with data on sexual exploitation).
Box 1: Relevant recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The Australian Government and state and territory governments should develop nationally agreed key terms and definitions in relation to child sexual abuse for the purpose of data collection and reporting by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Productivity Commission.
The Australian Government and state and territory governments should prioritise enhancements to the Child Protection National Minimum Data Set to include:
- data identifying children with disability, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
- the number of children who were the subject of a substantiated report of sexual abuse while in out-of-home care
- the demographics of those children
- the type of out-of-home care placement in which the abuse occurred
- information about when the abuse occurred
- information about who perpetrated the abuse, including their age and their relationship to the victim, if known.
Child protection departments in all states and territories should adopt a nationally consistent definition for child sexual exploitation to enable the collection and reporting of data on sexual exploitation of children in out-of-home care as a form of child sexual abuse.
A number of other Royal Commission recommendations proposed changes to various aspects of the out-of-home care system to better protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse while in care. The efforts of the Australian, state and territory governments to implement the Royal Commission recommendations are described in annual progress reports.