Who is responsible for child maltreatment?


Ensuring that children are safe and cared for is a priority for government. The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020 emphasises the need for interventions to be appropriately timed and to target the risk factors for child maltreatment. While most existing interventions in child protection focus on the family, there is a need to understand more about those responsible for child maltreatment over their life course, to inform prevention activities. This study explores whether different groups of maltreaters can be identified based on their frequency of contact with child protection agencies. It also explores differences among individuals identified as responsible for harm across age, gender, Indigenous status, relationship with victim and harm type. Findings suggest the need for effective interventions targeted at Indigenous people and individuals who have multiple contacts with child protection authorities. The study highlights the need for a greater understanding of the life-course experiences of people found responsible for child maltreatment. This information will enable more effective interventions that efficiently target the risks and needs of those responsible for child maltreatment to ensure the safety of children in their care.