Child abuse and neglect is one of Australia's most significant social problems. According to data gathered and reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in its 2015–16 Child Protection Australia report:
There were almost 356,000 notifications to child protection agencies that alleged child abuse or neglect, child maltreatment or harm to a child.
Of the notifications investigated, 60,989 cases (relating to 45,714 children) were substantiated, which means it was concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe that the child had been or was being or was likely to be abused, neglected or otherwise harmed.
The number of notifications and substantiations has been steadily rising. In 2011-2012 there were 252,962 notifications of which 48,420 cases (involving 37,781 children) were substantiated.
These disturbing statistics refer to cases reported to child protection agencies. The number of children actually experiencing abuse across Australia may be much higher as many incidences of child abuse may go unreported.
Child abuse is rarely a one-off incident, and the damage caused can have significant lifetime effects on mental, emotional and physical health, levels of educational attainment, employment, violence and crime, and addiction.
The University contributes to building ‘child-safe organisations’ within our communities by developing those entering the professions of care for children through our teaching and professional development programs, and research program. The University’s Institute of Child Protection Studies is enhancing the well-being of children, young people and families through quality research, evaluation, training and community education.
You can play a role in keeping children safe
You can learn more about how you can contribute to making ACU and our communities safe for children by undertaking ACU’s Online Module on Protecting Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults. Over 70% of ACU continuing and fixed-term staff have already completed the Online Module. If you have not yet completed the module, please do so clicking the following link to the Staff LEO site. If you have "LEO Auditor" status, please email ChildProtection@acu.edu.au or telephone extension 2101 before undertaking the module to ensure that your completion of the module is recorded.
Finally, if you see any behavior towards a child or children which causes you to be concerned about their health and wellbeing please:
contact the Police (telephone 000) if the child is being (or in imminent danger of being) harmed;
contact the relevant State or Territory child protection authority (contact details available at here) if child abuse and/or neglect is witnessed or suspected.
if the child is on an ACU site and/or engaged in an ACU related activity, notify the ACU National Security Centre (telephone 8888 or 1300 729 452), or a person in a position of authority within ACU (eg supervisor, manager or coordinator).
For further information or assistance regarding ACU’s Policy and Procedures, the online module or other child safety matter, contact Lisa Carroli, ACU’s National Child Protection Manager by email to ChildProtection@acu.edu.au or telephone extension 2101.
If you or someone close to you has been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, the following organisations may be able to help you.
ACU’s Employment Assistance Program (EAP) for staff: 1800 818 728 or 1300 667 700