Kids in NT care subject to abuse

SEVENTY Northern Territory kids who had been removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care were subjected to harm or exploitation last year.

The NT Children’s Commissioner’s annual report shows there were 81 cases in 2015-16 in which children in out-of-home care were harmed.

Of those cases, 10 children were the subject of multiple cases of abuse.

One girl was abused on three separate occasions.

Physical abuse was the most commonly reported form of harm in care, with 28 cases.

In five instances, a child in out of home care was subject to sexual harm or exploitation.

Of those 81 cases of abuse, the child was removed from the placement in only 41 instances.

Of “continued concern” was the number of children abused in foster care, read the report by Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne.

Eighteen of the cases of abuse in care concerned children in foster placements.

“The question arises as to the level of screening, adequacy of training and support to carers, and the level of monitoring of these placements by Territory Families,” Ms Gwynne wrote.

She said the number of cases of abuse of children in care was “substantial”, given that on any given day the number of children in care is about 1,000.

The report says that in 2014-15, 22 per cent of children who were the subject of a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect were the subject of a repeat substantiation within a year.

“This means that although Territory Families had recognised that abuse or neglect had occurred, the response of the agency was not sufficient to ensure the safety of the child,” Ms Gwynne wrote.

“It remains of continued concern that such a high percentage of children are being re-exposed to risk following previously substantiated abuse or neglect.”

Figures for 2015-16 were not included.

Territory-wide, there were 20,465 notifications made to the Department of Children and Families in the last year regarding children who were suspected to be at risk of abuse or neglect, a 20 per cent increase from 2014-15.

Of those, 78 per cent related to Aboriginal children.

Ms Gwynne wrote that the past five years had seen an “exceptional increase” in the number of child abuse notifications, with a 157 per cent rise.

There were 1,797 cases of abuse substantiated last year.

The NT Child Deaths Review showed 38 young Territorians died in 2015.

Of those, 29 were indigenous and 25 were from outside Palmerston and Darwin.

Two were in the care of the Department of Children and Families (now Territory Families) at the time.

Of 242 recorded child deaths in the NT between 2011 and the end of 2015, 62 were of children known to DCF.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the NT Government would analyse the data on child deaths to determine whether there were any correlation or trends that could be addressed with awareness campaigns or similar.

Of the 38 recorded child deaths in 2015, 23 were of infants under a year old.

Source : http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/kids-in-nt-care-subject-to-abuse/news-story/abe6a237b8f29c5bdc3f06274a322c73

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