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Repeat cases of child abuse demand new national response.



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Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia - Media Release Issued 11am (CST) Tuesday 27 August 2002

REPEAT CASES OF CHILD ABUSE DEMAND NEW NATIONAL RESPONSE A major report released today shows that child protection and family support services provided by the States and Territories are failing to prevent up to one in four abused children being abused again and calls on the Federal Government to step in and co-ordinate a new national response.

The report by the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia (CAFWAA) shows:

In every Australian State more than 10% of children with confirmed cases of abuse are subject to further abuse within a 12 month period despite contact with the family by child protection authorities. In South Australia, 24% of children are abused again. (Figures from Productivity Commission do not include NT or ACT)

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Proportion of abused or neglected children subject to a confirmed repeat case of abuse or neglect within 12 month period (1999-2000)

NSW VIC QLD WA SA TAS

10.2% 14.0% 22.6% 10.5% 23.9% 16.5%

A chronic lack of funding means that many families urgently needing help that could prevent child abuse or neglect and preserve families are placed on waiting lists. A recent survey in Victoria found 50% of families requesting support were placed on waiting lists -93% of these families were kept waiting more than 2 weeks for help, while around 50% had to wait up to 5 weeks. (CWAV survey)

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No State or Territory is providing an adequate reimbursement to foster carers whose expenses are on average 52% higher than the costs of children not in care owing, in part, to the poor health of abused and neglected children coming into foster care.

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The CAFWAA Chairperson Simon Schrapel said: "The child and family welfare system is in a sorry state across the nation, however despite the highly distressing level of child abuse and neglect in Australia, this report provides a new positive way forward."

"The Federal Government should develop a national plan that fully involves the States and Territories and ensures substantially increased investment for family support, child protection and out of home care. The plan should include:

National minimum standards for States and Territories to record and report child protection notification, investigation and substantiation rates for national comparison. ●

A major expansion of family support programs - especially community-based home visiting programs and mentoring and respite care programs for disadvantaged children and families who are at particular risk. ●

Substantially better support, including a higher level of reimbursement, for all carers by State and Territory governments and consideration of a national recruitment campaign for foster carers. ●

"National standards and accreditation exist for other services such as aged care, health and child care, they should now be developed and implemented for child protection, family preservation services and the out of home care system."

"Action and greater investment now will not only prevent children being abused and neglected, it will reduce problems that manifest later in life such as substance abuse, crime & homelessness."

Media contacts: Simon Schrapel, CAFWAA Chairperson - 0411 643 132 Ian Wilson, Media Liaison - 0419 626 155

The CAFWAA report, "A Time to Invest in Australia's Most Disadvantaged Children, Young People, and their Families" will be formally launched during National Child Protection Week, at the ACWA Conference, Swiss Grand, Bondi Beach, NSW. For more information -- http://www.acwa.asn.au/

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