Jump in child abuse sparks call for action

Stock image.
Stock image.

REPORTS of child neglect and abuse have jumped by almost a third in Australia, sparking calls for the government to “turn the volume up” on the wellbeing of young people.

The Children’s Rights Report shows indigenous children, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with a disability and LGBTI children are particularly vulnerable.

Child abuse and neglect reports increased by 27 per cent between 2012-13 and 2016-17.

Commissioner for Children Megan Mitchell, who authored the report, says Australia is clearly failing some of its children.

“I’m very concerned about the level of abuse and violence that children are exposed to in this country,” she told ABC radio on Monday.

“(We) really need to put all our efforts in to turn that trend around, in particular.”

Ms Mitchell said it was hard to pinpoint why the figures were rising – it may be that more neglect is now being reported – but the focus should be on eradicating the problem altogether.

The report also showed that girls aged between 15 and 19 had the highest rate of reported sexual abuse, while children with disability were more likely to have experienced repeated incidents of sexual abuse by the time they turned 18.

Nearly one in seven children aged between four and 17 had been diagnosed as having a mental disorder.

Dr Kirsty Nowlan, co-chair of Every Child, said infrastructure to support children must be a “top nation-building priority”.

“A national plan and minister is a start but is still not enough,” she said.

“We need to turn the volume up on the wellbeing of children and young people in Australia and elevate their needs to a nation-building status.”

– AAP