In what has been described as a world-first examination of child protection reports, Australia’s systems are shown to be in meltdown amid unprecedented levels of child abuse and neglect, ABC News reports.
South Australia’s Department for Child Protection opened its doors to the University of South Australia’s child protection experts, allowing them access to abuse notifications for the first time.
What seasoned researchers like Fiona Arney found as they dug down into the records shocked them. They showed the state was “facing an absolute crisis”.
Rather than being a South Australian problem, Professor Arney issued a warning to governments and experts interstate that the crisis was being replicated in all Australian jurisdictions.
By looking at the South Australian child protection reports, she found one in four children under the age of 10 are being reported to child protection authorities, and of these children, 90 per cent have multiple reports being made about “incredibly concerning” abuse and neglect.
“We are absolutely facing an epidemic of child abuse and neglect,” Professor Arney said.
The research began because Professor Arney wanted to follow up a statistic unearthed in retired judge Margaret Nyland’s royal commission into child protection, completed in August 2016.
Nyland found that one in four children in South Australia had come to the attention of child protection authorities by the time they turned 10, a figure the researcher of 25 years found difficult to believe.
Not only did they confirm the one in four figure, they also were alarmed to find out that most kids in the system were repeatedly reported, with one family reported 118 times over an eight-year period.