60,000 Australian children abused, neglected or at risk: minister
5 hours ago
SYDNEY (AFP) — Almost 60,000 Australian children are abused or neglected or at risk of being so -- a dramatic jump of 45 percent over the past few years, the government said Sunday.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the government was launching a discussion paper on a national child protection framework "because the figures on child abuse and neglect in Australia are so bad."
"There's now just under 60,000 children either being abused or neglected, and the numbers just keep growing," she told the Nine Network.
"They've grown by about 45 percent over the last few years, so it is a national issue."
The discussion paper found that the number of occasions when a child was found to be or found likely to be harmed, abused or neglected increased from 40,416 in 2002/03 to 58,563 by 2006/07.
Macklin said there were no clear reasons why the rates had increased so sharply but said it was associated with alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness and poverty.
"That's really one of the reasons why we need to embark on a national framework -- to understand better why the numbers are growing so rapidly and what it is that, as a nation, we can do," she said.
The minister said the rising numbers of children at risk had placed child protection authorities under enormous pressure and the government was concerned about the quality of care given to the 28,000 children living in foster homes.
"We've got a serious shortage of foster carers and concerns that not always are the children being properly or well cared for in foster care," she said.
The minister also said that with different child protection agencies in each state and territory, the standard of care was varied across the country.
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