A bombshell report has revealed that physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children is ‘disturbingly prevalent’ in Australia. According to a survey of 8500 Australians published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, one in three children experience physical abuse and one in four experience sexual abuse.
In response to the confronting findings, National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds called for the urgent establishment of a child wellbeing strategy. Hollonds highlighted the lack of reporting on budget allocations for child wellbeing, a minister for children, vision and urgency to change the situation.
Children who experienced abuse are reported to be three times more likely to have anxiety, abuse alcohol or major depression, and five times more likely to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus promised to look carefully at the findings when developing targeted policies. They also urged a response to the challenge of tackling child maltreatment in Australia.
The survey, led by QUT professor Ben Matthews, showed that emotional abuse and exposure to domestic violence were the most commonly reported forms of maltreatment. Prof Matthews also noted through the survey that the scope of sexual abuse has increased in the past few years, particularly in the case of perpetrators who are known adolescents.
The survey also noted that girls were twice as likely to have experienced sexual abuse compared with boys, and an alarming 30 per cent of the age group 16-24 reported self-harming in their lifetime.
Blue Knot Foundation chief executive Cathy Kezelman focused on the findings’ implication for the nation’s economy, emphasizing “the need to intervene early and proactively” to prevent or lessen the effects of child maltreatment.
The Queensland University of Technology is an Australian university dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge since 1989. It offers courses in various disciplines, ranging from engineering, science, and architecture to humanities, management and education. Its dedicated research staff and students are at the forefront of the industry and society improvement, driving innovation and producing outcomes that are beneficial to the nation.
Anne Hollonds is an Australian public intellectual and a pioneer in the child welfare sector. She is currently the National Children’s Commissioner, a position she assumed in 2017. Hollonds has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of vulnerable children and is passionate about making sure Australia addresses the issue of child wellbeing.