Discussion paper

The federal government is developing a national framework for protecting children. This discussion paper canvasses ideas on what should be included.

The issues and proposals outlined in this paper are intended as a starting point for discussions over the next three months with key stakeholders, experts and those with direct experience of child protection systems.

From the executive summary

In light of the unacceptable and increasing numbers of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect, the Australian Government has committed to developing a national framework for protecting children, and has released this discussion paper to canvass ideas on what should be included.

Child abuse and neglect cannot be easily disentangled from issues such as poverty, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, mental health issues and social isolation. Understanding the ways these factors inter-relate and developing strong connected solutions require the effort and attention of all levels of government, non-government organisations providing key services and support for families, and the broader community. This will form a key part of the Australian Government’s new social inclusion agenda.

The paper acknowledges the policing and statutory role of State and Territory Governments in responding to allegations of child abuse and neglect. However it highlights the potential for all governments to do better in preventing the circumstances in which child abuse and neglect are often found; and in ensuring the wellbeing of all Australian children.

The actions proposed for inclusion in the framework are those where there is room to improve connection and coordination across various parts of the system and across jurisdictional boundaries; where a national approach would ensure better use of resources; or where the Australian Government could make use of its policies and programs to ensure children are better protected.

The final framework will clarify the Australian Government’s role and will be a practical working document outlining concrete actions to be undertaken by governments and other players. Some are already being implemented; others would require change in approach or new commitment.

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