Are we failing our kids?

Anglicare Tasmania Children, Families and Community manager Paul Mallett, pictured with guest speakers Dr Kate Frieberg and Dr Ross Hamel of Grifftih University.

Anglicare Tasmania Children, Families and Community manager Paul Mallett, pictured with guest speakers Dr Kate Frieberg and Dr Ross Hamel of Grifftih University.

LAUNCESTON children are prone to higher rates of assault and more likely to be the subject of a child protection notification than children anywhere in the state, a new report reveals.

The State of Launceston’s Children report, released by Launceston Child Friendly Working Group yesterday, also showed that Launceston children were less likelyto be physically ready for the school day compared with other Tasmanian children,and demonstrated lower communication and cognitive skills.

The report said Launceston children were less likely to visit a child health nurse for their 3-1/2-year check, but more likely to be hospitalised due to injury.

It counted that 27 per cent of Launceston children live in low income households – 2 per cent above the state average – and 21 per cent of children live in a home where adults were unemployed.

Griffith University criminology and criminal justice professor Ross Homel said the rate of assaults against children and young people, at 6.9 per 1000, was concerning.

‘‘(This) is about 50 per cent higher than it is for the rest of Northern Tasmania,’’ he said.

‘‘So as far as that one statistic goes it does indicate a problem,’’ Professor Ross said.

‘‘We spend billions and billions of dollars in this country on child protection services after kids have come to the notice of authorities, after abuse or neglect has occurred.

‘‘We ought to be putting at least a fraction of those resources into prevention and heading off these problems before they emerge and become so entrenched that they’re expensive and hard to shift.’’

Anglicare’s children, families and community services state manager Paul Mallett said 20 to 30 per cent of kids were considered vulnerable or at-risk.

He said one in five children were not ‘‘school ready’’, with many arriving at school hungry and tired, and one in fouraged 15 were neither in school nor working.

‘‘The kids in this city deserve nothing less than our best efforts to see them thrive,’’ Mr Mallett said.

‘‘I trust this report will be a springboard into activity.’’

Cornerstone Youth Services chief executive Brian Wightman said the pre-school participation rate of under 78 per centat Mowbray and Rocherlea was a worrying statistic.

‘‘I think this is a very sobering report,’’ he said.

Mr Wightman said the Ravenswood child and family centre had established successful links between school and community, resulting in improved literacy rates.

‘‘With the growing population of the northern suburbs, there’s a real opportunity to have a child and family centre in the Mowbray area,’’ he said.

Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten pointed to Launceston’s volunteer rate of 17.7 per centas a positive to come from the report.

‘‘That’s one of the areas we did get a very strong tick,’’ he said.

‘‘We have plenty of volunteers that want to make a difference.’’

The Launceston Child Friendly Working Group is a collaboration between Anglicare, the Launceston City Council and the Northern Tasmanian Early Years Group.

KEY POINTS:

Compared with the Tasmanian average, more children and young people in Launceston are:

● Not physically ready for the school day, do not have physical independence or are lacking gross and fine motor skills.

● Perform lower in social competence.

● Demonstrate lower (school based) language and cognitive skills and lower communication skills and general knowledge.

● Less likely to visit a child health nurse at the 3.5 year old check but more likely to be hospitalised due to injury.

● More likely to have a child protection notification made about them (77.5 per 1000 child protection notifications and 11.4 per 1000 child protection notifications referred for investigation).

● Suffer higher rates of assault (6.9 per 1000 children assaulted).

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