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Wednesday, 4 December 2002
Page: 7170

Senator BARTLETT (Queensland— Leader of the Australian Democrats) (3.57 p.m.)—At the request of Senator Allison, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that Australians Against Child Abuse and the Child Abuse and Family Violence Research Unit at Monash University undertook a study in Victoria of mandatory reporting of child abuse and, in October 2002, released their report entitled, A Study in Confusion— Factors which affect the decisions of community professionals when reporting child abuse and neglect, and found:

(i) a lack of confidence in the statutory child protection system leading community professionals to some-times feel reluctant to make a child abuse report,

(ii) that 54 per cent of respondents would not report children whom they judged to be at considerable or extreme risk,

(iii) that for 88 per cent of respondents, their decision about whether or not to report a child was influenced by their view of the anticipated outcomes for the child, and

(iv) more than half of the respondents believed the outcome would not be positive for the child (56 per cent) or for the child's family (63 per cent);

(b) urges that action be taken on recommendations within the report to:

(i) fully implement mandatory reporting legislation, extending mandatory reporting to all professional groups,

(ii) evaluate the extent to which mandated professionals are currently complying with the legislation, and

(iii) increase funding to statutory child protection services to more effectively investigate reports of child abuse; and

(c) urges the Federal Government to work with all state governments to develop a national approach to improving the ways in which abused children are protected, including national minimum standards of care, uniform child protection legislation, a national independent research program and a federal system of children's services commissioners to subject all child welfare systems to regular and rigorous review.

Question agreed to.