The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recently released Child protection Australia 2016-17. The publication includes detailed statistical information on state and territory child protection and support services, and selected characteristics of children receiving these services. Where possible, trends over time and comparisons across jurisdictions are reported. Some of the data were released by states and territories in their annual reporting toward the end of 2017 and also reported in the child protection chapter of the annual Report on Government Services released in January 2018. National child protection data are also available in reports and online about the national indicator framework and progress in implementation of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. States, like Queensland, are also increasing public reporting of data particularly where the data sets or measures are of significance to government priorities.
Child protection Australia is a good resource because states and territories provide de-identified unit record (i.e. child-level) data from their administrative data collection systems, which means that detailed linking across otherwise silo-ed data sets can occur. An example is reporting about the rate of children receiving child protection services across Australia in 2016-17: 1 in 32 children received an investigation, care and protection order and/or were placed in out-of-home care, and 74% were repeat clients. Another is that children from very remote areas were 4 times as likely as those from major cities to be the subject of a substantiation.
States and territories also provide aggregate data about the use of intensive family support services and information about carers. Examples of reporting this information are that at 30th June 2017, more than half (52%) of children in relative/kinship placements were placed with grandparents (including Queensland data) and that of children who were in long-term out-of-home care in 2016–17, 24% lived with a third-party carer who had long-term legal responsibility for them and 62% were under the long-term legal responsibility of the state or territory.
Most data are disaggregated to report the numbers and rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in contact with child protection and support services and each section includes summary information. For example, in relation to admissions to out-of-home care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were over-represented – between 2012–13 and 2015–16, the rate of Indigenous children admitted to out-of-home care rose from 12.8 to 14.6 per 1,000, then fell to 13.6 per 1,000 in 2016–17. For non-Indigenous children, the rate remained stable over the 5-year period, at about 1.5 per 1,000.
It’s a valuable resource and worth a read.