The issue

Child abuse and neglect is one of Australia’s darkest social stories. The most recent figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare tell us that in 2013 - 2014 there were 304,097 new reports of abuse and neglect across Australia, which equates to one report every two minutes.

Abuse and neglect have a devastating impact on the lives of children, and the trauma that results from their experiences can continue to shatter their lives long after the abuse itself has stopped. Trauma impacts on the brains of children and young people, shaping their behaviour and reactions to the world around them. It robs children of their childhoods. It steals their self-confidence, their sense of safety, their carefree innocence, their ability to trust others, even their ability to learn. 

Without specialist help and protection, the experience of abuse can become the starting point for a lifetime of struggle, confusion, conflict and breakdown. It can lead to depression, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, crime, mental illness and youth and adult suicide.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse is usually defined by the laws developed by a state government. The laws reflect attitudes in society about the standards of care and protection that children need from their parents or other family members.The laws are also a sign of the commitment made by a community that ensures that violence towards children is not tolerated. Children and young people under the age of seventeen can be victims of child abuse.There are five main types of child abuse. Many children experience more than one form of abuse

Out-of-home care

More children than ever before are forced to live away from home. As at June 30 2014, more than 43,000 children could not sleep in their own beds because of fears for their safety.