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Most child abuse not reported: survey -

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ELEANOR HALL: A survey by the Australian Childhood Foundation has found that one in four
Australians who were suspicious that a child may have been the victim of abuse chose to do nothing
about it.

The survey showed that while almost half of those Australians who said they were aware of a child
abuse did report it to authorities, but one in six took no action because they didn't want to get
involved or didn't know what to do.

Today another child welfare group is calling for an overhaul of the way the Family Court assesses
abuse allegations, saying too many children are being put in danger.

Simon Lauder has more.

SIMON LAUDER: The report is called "Doing nothing hurts children" and it's a joint effort by the
Australian Childhood Foundation and Monash University which paints a disturbing picture of the
extent of child abuse in Australia.

A quarter of the more than 700 adults interviewed for the study say they have identified a case of
child abuse or neglect in the last five years but most did not report it to authorities.

Of those who knew of child abuse happening only 44 per cent reported it, 21 per cent discussed it
with a professional, but 16 per cent did nothing.

The foundation's Dr Joe Tucci says that's because of a reluctance to get involved or a lack of
knowledge about what to do.

JOE TUCCI: In general people know how to respond to child abuse if it's in their face but they
don't know necessarily what to do next.

SIMON LAUDER: In the lead up to Child Protection Week the National Council for Children
Post-Separation is calling for a review of the way the Family Court decides whether children have
been abused.

Spokeswoman Jen Jewel Brown says the process often ends in a child being put back in the care of an
abuser.

JEN JEWEL BROWN: The whole system is set up towards forcing shared care. There are inadequate
safeguards to make sure that children who might have been experiencing abuse are really cared for.

The system is not properly educated. There are often 15 minute interviews going on with children
who are then expected to disclose abuse to a stranger and it doesn't work.

SIMON LAUDER: Earlier this year Federal Government announced a series of reviews aimed at better
protecting women and children from family violence, including an inquiry into how state and
territory laws interact with the Commonwealth laws and a review of Family Court processes.

Ms Brown says a 15-minute interview with a court appointed expert isn't enough to determine whether
a child has been abused and that should be changed.

JEN JEWEL BROWN: So we think that the parties, where there is abuse allegations, that each of them
should see a separate therapist who is experienced and trained, highly trained in the treatments of
some abuse, that there should be a range of appointments, that the courts should be given really
quite expert opinion that is taken in a reflective way.

SIMON LAUDER: Another of the Australian Childhood Foundation's findings is that one in three
Australians would not believe children if they disclosed that they were being abused. Dr Joe Tucci:

JOE TUCCI: If we don't believe a child is disclosing then we are not going to protect them and one
in three is way too high for an adult community to hold as an attitude when children are reporting
to us what has happened to them.

SIMON LAUDER: The Australian Childhood Foundation is using its report to call for the Federal
Government to fund a public awareness campaign to promote a sense of shared responsibility when it
comes to reporting child abuse.

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Lauder with our story.