A new approach to national child protection data: implementation of the Child Protection National Minimum Data Set

Children Child abuse Child protection Australia

Describes the development and implementation of the CP NMDS and highlights key new analyses able to be reported for the first time at the national level. It also outlines the need for ongoing development work.


The need for national unit record level child protection data in Australia has long been recognised by all jurisdictions and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. However, competing work priorities and lack of dedicated national funding inhibited the development of this work. The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020 endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments on 30 April 2009—provided an authoritative platform to progress this data development project. It was further supported through dedicated national resources made available through the Australian Government and strong collaboration from each Australian state or territory department responsible for child protection.

Action plans under the National Framework identify specific actions, responsibilities and timeframes for implementation. The development of a unit record data collection for child protection was specifically mentioned as an action under the Enhancing the evidence base national priority in the first 3-year Action Plan (2009–2012) of the National Framework. This committed the Australian, state and territory governments and the non-government sector to work together to ensure children are safe and well, including reviewing and improving data collections. The second 3-year Action Plan (2012–2015)  also highlighted a range of priorities under the same national priority, including implementation of unit record
level data collection and a continued focus on improved consistency and quality of the underlying data.

This working paper describes the development and implementation of the unit record level Child Protection National Minimum Data Set (CP NMDS). It provides a sample of new
analyses from the 2012–13 collection that are now possible and outlines proposed improvements for future data collections.



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