Children in WA state care abused

In seven cases, the person responsible was living in the same household as the child victim.

Almost 90 children removed from their parents for their own safety were abused or neglected in State care in WA last year.

A Federal Government report revealed yesterday that 87 children were sexually, physically or emotionally abused or neglected in care — almost 2 per cent of the 4725 children in care in WA in 2014-15.

Department for Child Protection and Family Support director-general Emma White said that none of the 87 cases referred to abuse or neglect by the child’s carer.

They might include abuse by other children, friends, extended family members and possibly in another person’s home.
In seven cases, the person responsible was living in the same household as the child victim.

Ms White said this represented 0.1 per cent of the number of children in care and the lowest rate among all jurisdictions.
“In all cases appropriate support is provided to the child and, where necessary, a safety plan is put in place to ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing,” she said.

The Productivity Commission released the first of its reports into government services yesterday, outlining child protection services across Australia.

The report also said WA had the lowest rate of substantiating reports of child abuse or neglect, with 33 per cent substantiated from finalised investigations.

Almost 38 per cent of investigations by WA’s Child Protection Department took 90 days or more. Almost 70 per cent of them started within seven days of a report, but for 17 per cent it took 29 days or more for inquiries to begin.

Ms White said the time taken for an assessment was influenced by factors such as engaging at-risk families, waiting for the outcomes of police inquiries and the challenges of vast distances in remote areas.

"While a prompt completion of an investigation is desirable, it is important that expediency does not undermine a thorough and accurate assessment,” she said.

"Any immediate safety needs of a child are actively assessed and monitored while a safety and wellbeing assessment is being conducted.”

In 2014-15, 1181 children were admitted into State care under a protection order, 631 of whom were indigenous — up from 908 taken into care in 2013-14.

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