Prevention Programs Urgently Needed To Reduce Alarming Number Of Children Being Abused In Australia

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21st January 2010, 05:52pm - Views: 759

Prevention programs urgently needed to reduce alarming number of
children being abused in Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today released the latest statistics on the number of
children in need of protection from abuse and neglect. The report highlights the dramatic increase
in numbers of children on care and protection orders and living in out-of-home care. The following
statement, released by Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin, responds to these alarming new
figures which she believes are only the tip of the iceberg.

Melbourne, Australia January 21, 2010 This morning saw the release of the most recent statistics involving
Australian children currently on care and protection orders, and living in out-of-home care, statistics released by
the Federal Government's Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, titled Child Protection Australia 2008-2009, is the thirteenth of its kind released by the Institute.
Kate Valentine of the Institute's Child and Youth Welfare Unit stated in the (Institute) press release that `over
the past year, the number of children on care and protection orders and the number of children in out-of-home
care increased by almost 10%.'

Whilst the two main findings of the report show there is an increase in the number of children who are subject to
a notification of child abuse or neglect; are living under care and protection orders and; living in out-of-home
care as well as the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over-represented, the Federal
government response is still to focus on early and tertiary intervention as opposed to prevention strategies.
Prevention strategies that Child Wise, Australia's leading child protection charity, suggest are clearly needed to
reduce the number of Australian children being abused and neglected and becoming victims of a crisis-driven
Child Protection system.

`Our programs seek to prevent child abuse by providing greater awareness and understanding; as well as
providing the tools and strategies for individuals, organisations and communities to address these issues. The
programs are child-focused, and informed by a fundamental belief that children have a right to physical and
psychological safety, and that we as individuals, communities and governments have the capacity to protect
children,' CEO Bernadette McMenamin stated.

Governments continue to confuse early intervention for prevention, and intervene only after the abuse has
occurred rather than supporting programs that seek to stop the abuse of children from happening in the first
place. Therefore, in 2010 no government funding has been made available for the National child abuse helpline
that Child Wise has continued to run without Government funding for years.

Where the Institute's report states that one potential reason for the dramatic increase in these cases may be
greater community awareness of the issue, Child Wise would argue this is why funding of the hotline is
absolutely essential to prevent the continual rise of children placed in at-risk situations. Our research indicates
that parents and carers are often unaware of whom to contact to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect, what
exactly needs to be reported, how to respond to cases of child abuse and where to go for support. Child Wise
programs aim to educate parents, carers, and children on personal safety strategies as well as the indicators of
child sexual abuse and grooming. At Child Wise we know that an estimated 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are
victims of child sexual abuse (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2000) and that approximately 3% of child
sexual abuse victims will ever speak up about their abuse.

`More attention needs to be given to prevention programs,' Ms McMenamin argued. `As well as a Government
funded National child abuse helpline which is currently run by Child Wise. These are the ways in which we can
curb the rise of children at risk of abuse and neglect in Australia.' Child Wise 21.01.2010

Child Wise Ltd. PO Box 451, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3205 ABN 57 098 261 575

Tel: +61 3 9645 8911 Fax: +61 3 9645 8922 Email: [email protected] Web:

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