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Child Abuse Cracks Fear for Victoria

VICTORIA has one child under state protection for every two in NSW, raising fears abused children may be slipping through the cracks.
Children are being removed from abusive families more than ever before, with almost 35,500 children under care and protection orders nationally last year - up nearly 10 per cent on the previous year.
But just 6100 Victorian children were under protection orders compared with more than 13,000 in NSW, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's annual child protection report shows.
The study follows a scathing Victorian Ombudsman's report last year revealing almost a quarter of the state's abused children were not given case workers.
It found children were put in the care of sex offenders and that staff manipulated documents to meet performance targets.
The latest research shows child protection authorities received more than 207,000 notifications of abuse last year.
Of those, more than 54,000 cases of abuse were substantiated.
More than 6300 Victorian children were confirmed as victims, with more than a third suffering physical abuse and 2.8 per cent being sexually abused.
But the numbers in Victoria were eclipsed by those in NSW, where authorities were able to substantiate more than 34,000 cases of abuse, 10 per cent sex abuse.
Alannah and Madeline Foundation chief executive Dr Judith Slocombe said the extent of abuse was sickening. "Children should be the prime thing we care about in our society," she said.
Police are most likely to notify child protection authorities of abuse, reporting a quarter of all Victorian cases. Schools reported 14 per cent, and welfare organisations 10 per cent.
A spokeswoman for Victorian Community Services Minister Lisa Neville said different reporting requirements made it hard to compare the systems of each state.
"Protecting our most vulnerable Victorians is our number one priority," she said.
The Victorian Government announced a $77 million boost to child protection after the Ombudsman's report.
Federal Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin said new national standards were being developed to ensure the welfare of children in foster homes.

Herald Sun (21-1-2010)
Ben Packham

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