The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released Child Protection Australia 2014-15 last week. Across Australia, the report showed that the number of children in contact with the child protection system continued to increase. Alarmingly, 73% of these children were repeat clients. That is, there had been a previous investigation, order and / or out-of-home care placement. Over 60% had been subject to an investigation, over 94% to an order, and 95% to a placement. Over 60% did not receive any services following an investigation and 8% of children had received an investigation, order and out-of-home care. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continued to be over-represented in all child protection services; 7.1 times more likely compared with non-Indigenous children.
Almost 50% of substantiations involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland were for neglect, followed by just over 29% for emotional abuse. For non-Indigenous children, 38.1% of substantiations were for neglect and 39.3% for emotional abuse. Queenslands substantiation rate continued to be low with only 33% of notifications being substantiated.
Looking at the out-of-home care data, the number of children admitted to out-of-home care in Queensland continued to decrease as was the case in Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. In Queensland, Tasmania and the NT, most children lived with foster carers, whereas most lived with kinship carers in other jurisdictions. The number of children exiting out-of-home care (either through reunification or by turning 18 years) increased in Queensland. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland were 8.5 times more likely to be in out-of-home care, compared with a rate ratio of 9.5 across Australia.
In terms of intensive family support services, a substantially higher proportion of children in out-of-home care in Queensland (28.2%) used these services in 2014-15 compared with other states and territories. The Australian average was less than 8%.
To access the report, click here.