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Child abuse, neglect investigations rise

Date

Stephanie Anderson

The Community Services Directorate annual report 2011-12 says the number of children under 18 years of age entering out-of-home care had risen an average 10.8 per cent per year over the past decade.

The Community Services Directorate annual report 2011-12 says the number of children under 18 years of age entering out-of-home care had risen an average 10.8 per cent per year over the past decade. Photo: Supplied

Child protection services have investigated more than 2200 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect in Canberra in 2011-12, a 30 per cent surge from the previous year.

The Community Services Directorate annual report 2011-12 said that Care and Protection Services received 2217 reports requiring appraisal throughout the year, 517 more than anticipated. It was also a significant increase from the 1673 appraisals conducted in 2010-11.

A Community Services Directorate spokesman said an appraisal was carried out if there were reasonable suspicions that a child has been, currently is or is at risk of being abused or neglected, and no one with parental responsibility is willing or able to protect them.

He said the increase in reports could be largely attributed to increased community awareness.

''This is alongside the categories of mandatory reporters, such as teachers and police, who also make concern reports,'' he said.

An appraisal involved getting parental consent to investigate the circumstance outlined in the report and generally involved two workers interviewing parents, children and young people, as well as speaking to professionals supporting the family.

He said the work facilitated by Care and Protection Services had been maintained despite the increasing workload, with some cases investigated on the same day as being reported.

''One reason for this has been the extra investment of $5.3 million allocated in 2012-13 over four years to increase the numbers of care and protection workers,'' he said.

The report also detailed increasing numbers of children under 18 years of age entering out-of-home care, described as an average yearly rise of 10.8 per cent over the past decade.

''Although the increase fluctuates yearly there continues to be more children entering care than leaving care in addition to a core group of children in stable long-term places which results in the ongoing increase,'' the report said.

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