Many Australian children and young people are at significant risk of abuse and neglect. The reported prevalence of child maltreatment (neglect, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse) is at alarming levels. Vulnerable families require intensive support from an overburdened system struggling to respond to mandatory reporting requirements.
When is a child in need of protection and when do ‘abusive and neglectful behaviours’ become ‘abuse’ and ‘neglect’? There is a range of factors that expose children and young people to greater risk of disadvantage, including family stressors like financial stress, domestic violence, social isolation, mental health and substance abuse. Who is at risk, and what is happening to children being removed from their families into out-of-home care? What assistance is available to vulnerable families experiencing abuse and neglect?