This is the sixteenth annual comprehensive report on child protection. It provides detailed statistical information on state and territory child protection and support services, and some of the characteristics of the children receiving these services. Key findings are outlined below.
Substantiated child abuse and neglect has increased
Over the past 12 months, the number of children who were the subject of substantiations increased from 31,527 to 37,781 (6.1 to 7.4 per 1,000 children). This increase was found across most jurisdictions and could be influenced by a range of factors-including legislative changes, enhanced public awareness and inquiries into child protection processes, along with real increases in abuse and neglect. This has reversed the previous downward trend which showed the rate of children in substantiations decrease from 6.5 per 1,000 children in 2007-08 to 6.1 in 2011-12.
Very young children are the most likely to be the subject of substantiated abuse and neglect
In 2011-12, children aged under 1 year were most likely to be the subject of a substantiation (13.2 per 1,000 children) and those aged 15-17 were least likely (3.2 per 1,000 children). Over the past 12 months, the rate of children aged under 1 year who were the subject of a substantiation increased from 12.0 to 13.2 per 1,000 children.
The numbers of children admitted to and discharged from care and protection orders have increased
Over the past 12 months, the number of children discharged from orders increased by 27%-from 7,480 in 2010-11 to 9,478 in 2011-12. This compares with a smaller (3%) increase in the number of children admitted to orders over the same period-from 13,830 to 14,191. Of the 14,191 children admitted to orders, about two-fifths (39%) had previously been admitted to an order. Almost half (45%) of children admitted to orders were aged under 5.
The majority of children in out-of-home care were placed for more than a year
At 30 June 2012, there were 39,621 children in out-of-home care. Between 2011 and 2012, the rate of children in out-of-home care at 30 June had increased from 7.3 per 1,000 children in 2011 to 7.7 in 2012. Almost 1 in 5 (19%) children had been in their current placement for less than 1 year. Almost one-third (30%) had been in a continuous placement for between 2 and 5 years, while a further 38% had been in a continuous placement for 5 years or more. Most (90%) children in out-of-home care were on care and protection orders.
More than half of foster carer households had multiple foster children
During 2011-12, there were 11,664 foster carer households and more than 12,278 relative/kinship households that had one or more children placed with them. At 30 June 2012, 49% of foster carer households with a placement had one child placed with them; 46% had between two and four foster children and 4% had five or more.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be over-represented
In 2011-12, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were almost 8 times as likely to be the subject of substantiated child abuse and neglect as non-Indigenous children (rates of 41.9 and 5.4 per 1,000 children, respectively).