Key elementsThe Australian Government is developing and will take the lead on implementing a National Child Protection Framework. In this Budget, $2.6 million has been allocated to this development, recognising that the safety and wellbeing of Australia's children is critical.
Action will focus on preventing abuse through early intervention and better integration of family services, and will drive best practice across jurisdictions and government and non-government sectors through clearer national reporting and accountability mechanisms.
The Government is leading a consultation process towards a practical, action-focused framework that makes a difference in the lives of children. Consultation is occurring with appropriate stakeholders including state and territory governments, peak organisations and non-government organisations working with children, families, out-of-home care systems and foster carers.
Work on a new data system will also take place, to give a better picture of the extent of child abuse and neglect in Australia.
BackgroundIn Australia, keeping children safe is the statutory responsibility of state and territory governments, but the Australian Government recognises the critical need for national leadership in this area, and is committed to developing the framework during the 2007 election.
There has been a significant increase in reporting to statutory child protection systems over the past decade. In 2006-07 there were 309,517 notifications of suspected child abuse and neglect in Australia, with 58,563 of these notifications being substantiated.
Of particular concern are the high numbers of Indigenous children where abuse or neglect has been substantiated (more than five times higher than other children), and the high percentage of children under ten involved in the child protection system.
ImplementationConsultation on the development and shape of the framework is currently underway with state and territory governments, the community sector, experts in the field, and children and families with experience of the child protection system.
The National Child Protection Framework will be developed in 2008 and implemented from 2009, along with specific trials of the Child Protection and School Attendance and Enrolment measures in 2008-09.