Thursday, 3 July 2008

Child protection system wait too long

Child protection workers say six months is too long to wait for a national information sharing system on child protection.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced at today's Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting that a working party will be formed to explore an information system on children at risk.

It follows concerns that children are slipping through the cracks of community services departments when they move states.

Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin says faster action is needed.

"We have reached a national emergency, and while we're very glad to see that COAG has actually addressed child protection, referring it to a committee for six months when there is such an urgent need to take action now at a national level is a bit poor," she said.


Starving Adelaide children yet another sign of national child abuse crisis The shocking revelation of starving children in Adelaide is yet another sign of a national child abuse crisis needing immediate action, according to NAPCAN, the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

“The cases are now mounting up throughout Australia , and the ones that are coming to light are just the tip of the iceberg,” said NAPCAN CEO Maree Faulkner . “ Hundreds of Australian children are dying every year – one every two days – and thousands more are being seriously damaged because of personal, community and government inaction.”

Ms Faulkner said Australia needs a three-pronged approach of personal, community and government responsibility -focussed squarely on prevention - if Australia 's spiralling rates of child abuse and neglect are to be stopped.

“What we need is universal post-natal support for all parents, particularly in those first vulnerable years of a child's life. We need parenting and conflict management skills taught to vulnerable families and young people, affordable and accessible childcare, adequate mental health services, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, services that focus on the children involved.

“Crucially, we also need communities to be educated about being alert to children who are being neglected and parents who are stressed, and then intervening. It's everyone's responsibility help and care for our most vulnerable.

Ms Faulkner said focussing resources on treating abuse after the fact is clearly not working.

“Intervention after the fact is rarely successful. Child protection agencies have had their budgets doubled in some states and still the situation gets worse,” said Ms Faulkner.

“Every notification has to be investigated, meaning serious cases of neglect are often unable to be given the attention they deserve. Continuing to put all our resources into statutory intervention once a child is abused makes absolutely no sense.

“How shocking does it have to get before authorities realise that what's been done in the past isn't working? Preventing abuse before it happens is the only way we are going to halt the burgeoning numbers of children being killed and abused in Australia.

“The Government response must include a stronger emphasis on early intervention and prevention. We have to break this cycle now. Child abuse and neglect is linked to alcohol abuse, mental illness, homelessness and domestic violence. Specific targeted services for the most vulnerable families and children are essential. Global experience shows these things make a huge difference to stopping kids being hurt and killed.”

PREVENTION - THE ONLY WAY TO ENSURE AUSTRALIA'S CHILDREN ARE SAFE AND WELL Mon 26th May 2008 "Governments and community organisations must focus on prevention if Australia's spiralling rates of child abuse and neglect are to be addressed, according to NAPCAN, the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

NAPCAN was responding to the release of the draft National Child Protection Framework by the Federal Government.

“We congratulate Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin for making child abuse a priority. The release of the Framework is strong acknowledgement by the Commonwealth that child abuse and neglect is everyone's problem and that a national response is required,” said NAPCAN CEO Maree Faulkner.

“But this response must include a stronger emphasis on early intervention and prevention. Continuing to put all our resources into statutory intervention once a child is abused makes no sense.

“We have seen the numbers of child abuse notifications continue to burgeon across the country – there are now over 309,500 notifications per year - 50,000 of which are subsequently substantiated. This means that hundreds of our children die and tens of thousands are seriously damaged every year. We must act to stop this now.”

International and Australian research confirms that community-wide measures such as maternity leave, post-natal home visiting, family support services and quality child care are crucial in building a child friendly society.

In addition to these universal measures, specific targeted services for the most vulnerable families and children are essential. Child abuse and neglect is linked to other major social issues such as alcohol abuse, mental illness, homelessness and domestic violence.

“NAPCAN is urging the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to adequately resource services which support families and protect children in these situations,” said Ms Faulkner.

“The development of the National Child Protection Framework is an historic opportunity to make a real difference to the future of our most vulnerable children. For the sake of Australian kids, I urge Governments to make prevention a priority.”

Make your kids top priority before it's too late: NAPCAN National Families Week 2008, 11-17 May
Many Australian children are being pushed to the bottom of parents' to-do lists at the expense of their kids' long-term wellbeing and development, according to the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN).

Speaking on the eve of National Families Week (11-17 May), NAPCAN Chief Executive Officer Maree Faulkner urged Australian parents to make their kids a priority before it's too late. “The longer and longer hours worked by many Australian parents is taking a heavy toll on the emotional and often physical needs of children,” said Ms Faulkner. “Continued absence of both parents results in long-term damage to not only family relationships, but also to the wellbeing and resilience of children.”

More than 1.7 million Australians work 50 hours or more per week, twice as many as 1982. (Australian Social Trends 2003). More than 60% of Australian workers work on weekends or between 7am and 7pm (ABS). The hours that parents spend with their children have been shown to impact the emotional and intellectual development of a child. In addition, a recent national survey of children aged between 10 and 14 years found that feeling positively connected to family and friends is a key determinant of happiness and wellbeing for children. (Australian Childhood Foundation 2007)

This year's National Families Week is focussed on urging parents to spend quality time with their children every day and more effectively balancing work and family responsibilities. Employers are equally encouraged to take actions to improve work-family balance for their employees.

“Children deserve to have daily quality time with their most trusted adults, from having breakfast and dinner together to reading and playing in the evening. Families and employers who commit to a sensible balance of work and play will help ensure the wellbeing of Australia 's future generations,” said Ms Faulkner.

Housing dept under scrutiny over neglect

Questions have been raised about the role of public housing authorities in a case of alleged child neglect in Canberra.

Government must do more to support families

The Government needs to do much more to support familles so parents can afford to feed their children and to prevent children from neglect.

DOCS insiders blow whistle on tragedy
DOCS workers have detailed a catalogue of failures that have left at-risk children in unsafe families and put staff in danger, as officers struggle with crippling vacancies in a department top-heavy with managers and with a dysfunctional records system.

Ten years for beating infant to death
A 31-year-old West Australian man has been jailed for 10 years for bashing a three-year-old boy to death after inflicting injuries described by a judge as "almost beyond belief".

Criminal Code legtimises violence against kids: MP

A Queensland state Labor MP says new statistics showing the extent of child physical abuse by parents support his case for a review of the criminal code. Dean Wells says figures compiled by a parliamentary intern found almost 700 assault charges were laid against parents disciplining their children in the 2005/06 financial year.

Australia grappling with child abuse 'epidemic'
A child protection organisation says the rate of child abuse in Australia has reached epidemic levels. Child Wise has collated research showing one in four girls and one in seven boys experience some form of sexual abuse.

Smacking children 'allowable': minister
NSW Community Services Minister Kevin Greene has defended himself against accusations of hypocrisy for smacking his children and then supporting his department taking a six-year-old boy away from a grandmother who smacked the child.

Man jailed for bashing girl to death
The ACT Supreme Court has sentenced a man to 15 years in jail for the manslaughter of a four-year-old girl in Canberra more than two years ago. Darren Lee Cassidy pleaded guilty to killing South Australian girl Trinaty Monique Howarth with a saucepan and walking stick on November 26, 2005.

SA row over smacking children
South Australian Democrat MP Sandra Kanck has criticised a move in State Parliament to legally endorse the smacking of children. Family First Upper House member Dennis Hood has introduced a bill seeking to endorse the legality of "reasonable chastisement" of children.

NZ passes anti-smacking law
New Zealand's anti-smacking Bill will become law within weeks after winning overwhelming support in Parliament. The country joins only a handful of European nations to legislate against the use of unreasonable force in disciplining children.

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