Over 1,400 Children Abused in Australia’s Out-of-Home Care System

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A chilling report that is the first of its kind offers a look into how frequently children who are in out-of-home care — that is, in foster care, residential care, or being cared for by a relative — are being abused.

Ironically, children are often placed in care because they are experience abuse at the hands of their parents or their parents are not otherwise able to reasonably care for them.

The report, called Safety of children in care 2020-21, found that as many as 1,442 were physically, emotionally, or sexually abused or subject to neglect while in out-of-home care since 2020, The Epoch Times reports.

“Although the Royal Commission had a specific focus on sexual abuse, the national data collection also includes physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. Work is ongoing to improve and expand the collection and reporting of these data,” Dinesh Indraharan, spokesperson for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), said on Friday.

Almost all the 1,442 children who experienced abuse in state or territory-run care were from New South Wales (846), Queensland (278) and Victoria (214).

The most common type of abuse was physical, which occurred in 32% of cases. 28% of the children were emotionally abused, 21% sexually abused, and 19% neglected.

Boys were more likely to be subject to physical abuse (41%), while girls were more likely to be subject to sexual abuse (54%).

The most vulnerable age group were those between the ages of 10-14, which made up 41% of the substantiated incidents over the last 12 months.

27% of the abused children were between the ages of 5-9 and 22% were 15 and older.

The Epoch Times adds that “the full scale of the problem remains unknown as the AIHW noted it is not possible to estimate the rate of abuse while in care as it includes historical cases substantiated over the past 12 months, and children on court orders who may be living in other arrangements.”

“The effects of these experiences can last a lifetime and can affect future generations. By bringing together the available data in conjunction with the Commonwealth and states and territories, we hope to strengthen the evidence and build a more coherent picture of abuse in care in Australia,” Indraharan said.

Overall, 174,700 children received child protection services in Australia in 2019-20, 1 out of every 32 children in the country.

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