More children in care: report

More child protection investigations are substantiated in Tasmania than in any other state, a new report has found. About 68 per cent of Tasmanian children in finalised investigations only in 2015-16 had their cases substantiated, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed. 

Tasmania was the only state where more investigations were substantiated than not.

A notification was “substantiated" if following an investigation, it was decided there was sufficient reason to believe the child has been, is being, or is likely to be abused, neglected, or otherwise harmed, the report said.

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma said the highest rate of substantiations showed the Child Safety Service was achieving a “robust and better targeted assessment process”.

“It’s not a reflection on the incidence of child abuse or neglect in any particular state, but shows that our assessment processes of initial notifications is robust and that our targeted approach to investigations is working,” she said.  

There were 902 children subject of only a finalised investigation in Tasmania in 2015-16, and 614 were substantiated. 

“Legislative changes, enhanced public awareness and inquiries into child protection processes, along with real rises in abuse and neglect, could influence increases in the number of notifications and substantiations, and the children who were the subject of them,” the Child protection in Australia 2015-16 report said. 

“Additionally, recent increases could be related to an increased focus on providing statutory responses to those who are most likely to need intervention and protection.”

There were 2579 children receiving child protection services in Tasmania, up from 2560 in 2014-15. The report defines receiving services as kids who were the subject of an investigation of a notification, on a care and protection order, and-or in out-of-home care. The amount dropped from 2947 in 2012-13. Children in out-of-home-care in Tasmania increased to 1150 at June 30, 2016 from 1061 at the same time the year before.

Tasmania had the third highest rate per 1000 children in OOHC in the country at June 30. In Australia, children living in very remote areas were most likely to have investigations substantiated. Emotional abuse was the primary reason for substantiation of cases in Tasmania, followed by neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.