The incidence of child abuse in Australia is worsening, according to the Child Protection Australia 2004-05 report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Every national indicator of child abuse has increased every year for six years running:
- child abuse notifications;
- substantiated abuse cases;
- children on care and protection orders; and
- the number of children in out-of-home care.
Indigenous children continue to be significantly over represented in every one of these areas.
Findings from the Child Protection Australia 2004-05 report
The full report is available from the AIHW website: Child Protection Australia 2004-05 report
Adam Blakester, Executive Officer of the NAPCAN Foundation, Australia's lead national child abuse prevention agency, says 'These findings confirm that child abuse and neglect continues to be Australia's most serious social problem bar none – and it's getting worse.'
An Australian child was harmed, or found likely to be harmed, every 11 minutes in 2004-05 – nearly double as often as in 1999-2000.
Furthermore, the complexity of the problems and circumstances experienced by children - such as family violence, mental health and social isolation – are worsening.
The lifelong and inter-generational consequences of child abuse make this Australia's most serious social problem.
What can we do?
The NAPCAN Foundation believes solving this complex and massive problem requires every Australian to get involved:
- At a national level we need research to identify the full scale of the problem of child abuse.
- On a personal level every one of us can and must play a part in preventing child abuse – before it starts.
For example, the AIHW Report revealed an over-representation of sole-parent families in substantiated abuse cases. Sole parents are more likely to have low incomes or be financially stressed; be socially isolated; or have less support from their immediate family. These are all factors that have been associated with child abuse and neglect.
'Even simple things that we all can do make a difference,' explains Blakester. 'Cooking and sharing a meal with a sole parent family can help reduce stress and isolation, while creating a friendlier community too.'
For more information, visit the NAPCAN Foundation website