National Child Protection Week

Parliament house flag post

National Child Protection Week

Posted 5/09/2011 by Janet Phillips

The week beginning 4 September 2011 marks the start of National Child Protection Week. The Australian Government’s National framework for protecting Australia’s children 2009–2020 acknowledges that child abuse and neglect rates have ‘more than doubled over the past 10 years and the number of children subject to child abuse and neglect remains unacceptably high’. Globally, child protection issues are complex and the consequences for the world’s children of abuse, exploitation and neglect are immense.

The scale of the problem globally

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least 300 million children are subjected to abuse and that violence may affect as many as 1.5 billion children worldwide. Some are forced to work as child soldiers or forced into child marriages; others are forced into child labour or the sex trade. In November 2009, UNICEF produced a special edition of its State of the world’s children report to celebrate 20 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report noted the difficulties in measuring and monitoring child protection around the world and pointed out that a wide variety of violations remain hidden, due to the difficulties of defining, collecting and analysing appropriate indicators:

In addition, given that the perpetrators of many abuses against children often go to great lengths to hide their deeds, and the shame and stigma attached to violations that foster under-reporting in all societies, it is hard to accurately assess the scale of child protection violations.
The report also noted that child protection violations are not restricted to the developing world with an estimated 4 per cent of children in industrialised countries physically abused each year:
Violence, child labour and trafficking are also of particular concern in industrialized countries. A recent review of studies on child maltreatment published in The Lancet reveals that at least 4 per cent of children in industrialized countries are physically abused each year, and 1 in every 10 is neglected or psychologically abused. It is estimated that 5–10 per cent of girls and up to 5 per cent of boys suffer penetrative sexual abuse over the course of their childhood; the percentage of children experiencing any form of sexual abuse could be as much as three times higher.

Children who are abused are at higher risk of experiencing mental health issues, low educational outcomes, substance abuse, relationship problems and becoming perpetrators of violence themselves later in life. Children of illegal migrants are also at greater risk of exploitation according to the report.

Child protection in Australia

For some time the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has been reporting that although many Australian children are faring well, many others, particularly indigenous children, experience considerably worse outcomes nationally. The latest AIHW report on child wellbeing in Australia, Headline indicators for children's health, development and wellbeing 2011, notes that 7 in every 1000 (25 200) children aged 0–12 years were the subject of a substantiated report of abuse or neglect in 2009–10 and that indigenous children were over-represented at 8 times the rate of other children.

In a recent resource sheet, Effects of child abuse and neglect for children and adolescents (2011), the National Child Protection Clearinghouse (NCPC) documents the many complex and long term effects of child abuse. Another resource sheet, The economic costs of child abuse and neglect (2010), shows that the economic costs are considerable, with approximately $2.5 billion spent on child protection and out-of-home care services nationally in 2009–10.

The Government’s National framework for protecting Australia’s children 2009–2020, acknowledges that child abuse and neglect has ‘become an issue of national concern’ with ‘state and territory child protection systems struggling under the load’. The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) agrees and in a submission to a recent Senate inquiry expressed its concern that at present there is no national body ‘dedicated to ensuring a comprehensive approach to protecting children’s rights across Australia or to advocating for the rights of children who fall through the gaps, such as children in detention centres’.

A recent report published by UNICEF Australia, Listen to children: 2011 child rights NGO report, commended the Government in its development of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, but recommended that it be ‘integrated and refined to apply a human rights approach both in their further development and implementation’.

Early prevention

Many researchers, including Gerry Redmond (UNSW) and Brian W. Head (UQ) in Making prevention work in human services for children and youth, 2011, argue that the negative outcomes of child abuse could be significantly reduced through early prevention programs that anticipate the problems and assist individuals and families to avoid the negative outcomes in the first place. The Government agrees and states in its National framework for protecting Australia’s children 2009–2020 that:
Australia needs to move from seeing ‘protecting children’ merely as a response to abuse and neglect to one of promoting the safety and wellbeing of children. Leading researchers and practitioners – both in Australia and overseas – have suggested that applying a public health model to care and protection will deliver better outcomes for our children and young people and their families ... Under a public health model, priority is placed on having universal supports available for all families (for example, health and education). More intensive (secondary) prevention interventions are provided to those families that need additional assistance with a focus on early intervention. Tertiary child protection services are a last resort, and the least desirable option for families and governments.
Some, such as NCPC, maintain that although there are children’s commissioners or guardians in all states and territories, until an independent commissioner for children is established to oversee children’s welfare, protection and care nationally; significant disparities in the treatment of children will remain.

Image source:

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




refugees asylum immigration Australian foreign policy Parliament climate change elections women social security Indigenous Australians Australian Bureau of Statistics Employment taxation Sport illicit drugs Medicare welfare reform Australian Defence Force welfare policy Asia income management Middle East criminal law disability Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States higher education people trafficking school education aid statistics Australian Electoral Commission WADA United Nations federal budget health financing emissions trading gambling Australia in the Asian Century steroids detention Private health insurance OECD ASADA labour force transport Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Industrial Relations dental health National Disability Insurance Scheme forced labour Senate election results Papua New Guinea Australian Public Service International Women's Day corruption Fair Work Act child protection people smuggling debt federal election 2013 parliamentary procedure ALP New Zealand Australian Crime Commission Newstart Parenting Payment 43rd Parliament slavery by-election political parties Census constitution High Court skilled migration voting Federal Court terrorist groups Afghanistan Higher Education Loan Program HECS youth Aviation environment foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability customs poker machines doping health crime health risks multiculturalism aged care Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery sea farers leadership United Kingdom UK Parliament Electoral reform politics banking firearms public policy mental health China ADRV terrorism social media pensions welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation governance public service reform Carbon Pricing Mechanism carbon tax mining military history employer employee fishing paid parental leave European Union same sex relationships international relations coal seam gas planning United Nations Security Council Australian economy food vocational education and training Drugs Indonesia children codes of conduct terrorist financing election timetable citizenship Productivity asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Population Financial sector national security fuel violence against women domestic violence disability employment Tasmania integrity science research and development Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse federal state relations World Trade Organization Australia accountability housing affordability bulk billing water renewable energy children's health health policy Governor-General US economy export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation family assistance expertise Senators and Members climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry food labelling Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets health reform Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government local government consumer laws PISA royal commission US politics language education Leaders of the Opposition Parliamentary remuneration health system Australia Greens money laundering servitude Special Rapporteur Trafficking Protocol energy forced marriage rural and regional Northern Territory Emergency Response ministries social citizenship China; Economic policy; Southeast Asia; Africa housing Speaker; House of Representatives; Parliament Defence High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories workers Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery transparency corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation standards NATO Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly public health smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine regional unemployment asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies trade unions same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders public housing prime ministers sitting days First speech defence budget submarines Somalia GDP forestry world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission regulation limitation period universities Ireland cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders animal health live exports welfare systems infant mortality middle class welfare honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Constitutional reform referendum Rent Assistance competition policy pharmaceutical benefits scheme obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days baby bonus DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant homelessness regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Youth Allowance Members suspension citizen engagement policymaking federal election 2010 workplace health and safety Trafficking in Persons Report marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament alcohol Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act entitlements political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing Hung Parliament political education social inclusion Social Inclusion Board maritime early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin Iran sanctions

Show all
Show less
Back to top