Protection of children from neglect and abuse: what are the gaps in current legislation in AUSTRALIA?

child abuse protection
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Introduction
Concerns regarding child abuse and neglect highlight the intersection between two legal systems in Australia. Child protection concerns are dealt with the state and territory laws are authorized to intervene when children are at risk or harm in their families. However, allegations regarding safety and abuse are also commonly raised in the context of families that are separated. Such disputes are dealt with family courts for which parents are responsible.  In Australia, many deaths of children are reported and the same have taken place because of the crisis of proper safety and care on the part of the parents or state officials.

The issue of resourcing limits is not very new to South Australia. In 2013, a whistle blower argued that there are increased risks of domestic violence in children and there have been many reports from the police and the courts about the increase of the same to fifteen per day. In New South Wales, as per the reports of the Ombudsman, it was stated that child protection officers were conducting face-to-face assessments for only twenty-eight percent of the reports where the child is at risk of significant harm. On an overall basis, only thirty six percent of investigations were completed within thirty days and further twenty-six percent of the same was not completed in a period of ninety days. The question is what made such a situation take place? Is it that Australian protection services are being starved of important sources? Alternatively, is it that the incident of child maltreatment is increasing at a very high rate?

The increase in demand for the protection of child can be traced as part of the global shift in the scope and breadth of what constitutes to child neglect and abuse. Modern child protection services were established in the year 1960 in response to the paper that was on battered child syndrome. Child protection services were formed in response to the physical abuse leading to different fractures and bleeding in the brain. The problem was very small in scope and was formed in response to one of the reporters on child removal. The Australian law with regard to the protection of children from abuse and other torture is very strict and there seems to be no gap of laws in paper however when the same is applied practically the law seems to have many gaps.

A combination of advances, changes in social norms, research and breaking of social taboos has resulted in the expansion in the types of mistreatment and a reduction in the threshold for what becomes neglect or abuse. The responsibility of child protection is now inclusive of child abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence. The entrance for what becoming mistreatment includes outcomes such as developmental delay and bruising.

In 2013, a whistle blower argued that there are increased risks of domestic violence in children and there have been many reports from the police and the courts about the increase of the same to fifteen per day. In New South Wales, as per the reports of the Ombudsman, it was stated that child protection officers were conducting face-to-face assessments for only twenty-eight percent of the reports where the child is at risk of significant harm. On an overall basis, only thirty six percent of investigations were completed within thirty days and further twenty-six percent of the same was not completed in a period of ninety days.

Conclusion
Conclusively, it can be said that Australian child protection services are in crisis and they are struggling to cope with unwanted situations. However, the solution to reduce domestic violence lies beyond the agencies. If we fail to understand the approach in protecting children it is the child victims of neglect and abuse who will pay the price.

References:

Mathews, B., Bromfield, L., Walsh, K., Cheng, Q. and Norman, R.E., 2017. Reports of child sexual abuse of boys and girls: Longitudinal trends over a 20-year period in Victoria, Australia. Child abuse & neglect66, pp.9-22.

Meinck, F., Cluver, L.D., Boyes, M.E. and Mhlongo, E.L., 2015. Risk and protective factors for physical and sexual abuse of children and adolescents in Africa: a review and implications for practice. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse16(1), pp.81-107.

Nemeroff, C.B., 2016. Paradise lost: the neurobiological and clinical consequences of child abuse and neglect. Neuron89(5), pp.892-909.

Stoltenborgh, M., BakermansKranenburg, M.J., Alink, L.R. and van Ijzendoorn, M.H., 2015. The prevalence of child maltreatment across the globe: Review of a series of metaanalyses. Child Abuse Review24(1), pp.37-50.