Identifying and definitional attributes
|Metadata item type:||Quality Statement|
|Indicators linked to this Quality statement:|
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2020–21: Indicator 1.1 Indigenous children in out-of-home care living with relatives or kin, or other Indigenous carers
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2020–21: Indicator 2.1 Indigenous children in out-of-home care living with Indigenous relatives or kin, or other Indigenous carers
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2020–21: Indicator 2.2 Indigenous children in out-of-home care with cultural support plans
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2020–21: Indicator 2.4 Indigenous children who were reunified and did not return to out-of-home care within 12 months
|Quality statement summary:|
The data for this collection are collected from each of the eight state and territory departments responsible for child protection. In Australia, state and territory governments are responsible for statutory child protection. Each responsible department assists vulnerable children who have been, or are at risk of being, abused, neglected or otherwise harmed, or whose parents are unable to provide adequate care or protection.
Departments responsible for child protection investigate, process and oversee the handling of child protection cases. Children and their families are assisted by being provided with, or referred to, a wide range of services.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) validates data for seven jurisdictions who provide unit record data and collates and analyses data for all eight jurisdictions following supply of aggregate data by New South Wales. The Child Protection National Minimum Dataset (CP NMDS) was implemented in 2012–13. The data are extracted from the administrative systems of the state and territory departments according to definitions and technical specifications to which those departments and the AIHW have agreed. This data collection represents the only national source of child protection data.
The collection is a part of the child welfare series of reporting. Ongoing funding of this series is specified in the Memorandum of Understanding between the AIHW and state and territory departments responsible for children and families services and in the associated 3-year Schedule (2020–21 to 2022–23) for national child protection work. Work is overseen by commonwealth-state/territory working groups, including the Children and Families Data Network.
Summary of key issues
The AIHW is an independent corporate Commonwealth entity under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 (AIHW Act), governed by a management Board and accountable to the Australian Parliament through the Health portfolio.
The AIHW is a nationally recognised information management agency. Its purpose is to create authoritative and accessible information and statistics that inform decisions and improve the health and welfare of all Australians.
Compliance with confidentiality requirements in the AIHW Act, Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), and AIHW’s data governance arrangements ensures that the AIHW is well positioned to release information for public benefit while protecting the identity of individuals and organisations.
For further information see the AIHW website www.aihw.gov.au/about-us, which includes details about the AIHW’s governance (www.aihw.gov.au/about-us/our-governance), and vision and strategic goals (www.aihw.gov.au/about-us/our-vision-and-strategic-goals).
One of the main functions of the AIHW is to work with the states and territories to improve the quality of administrative data and, where possible, to compile national data sets based on data from each jurisdiction, to analyse the data sets and disseminate information and statistics.
Data for the CP NMDS are extracted from administrative systems by state and territory departments responsible for child protection in Australia. These state and territory departments are the:
These state and territory departments extract data from administrative data sets according to nationally agreed definitions and technical specifications. This data is then supplied to the AIHW as unit record (child-level) files and forms the basis of the CP NMDS. Any previously unpublished state/territory specific data extracted from the CP NMDS requires approval from jurisdictional data custodians prior to release. An exception is made for the Department of Communities and Justice, New South Wales, where data is provided as aggregate counts.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987, in conjunction with the compliance provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), ensures that the data collections managed by the AIHW are kept securely and under the strictest conditions to preserve privacy and confidentiality.
For further information, see the AIHW website www.aihw.gov.au.
The reference period for the 2020–21 CP NMDS is from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. Data relating to child protection investigations includes investigation outcomes recorded up until 31 August 2021, to maximise the currency of these data items.
The state and territory departments responsible for child protection provide data to the AIHW annually, after the end of each financial year. For the 2020–21 collection, the first iteration of data was due to the AIHW in September 2021, and data were finalised for all states and territories in December 2021. Data from the 2020–21 Child Protection Collection were published in May 2022.
The data for each collection period are released in the AIHW’s Child protection Australia annual publication. Safety in care data for 2020-21 were published in a standalone report in December 2021.
Publications containing national child protection data, including the annual Child protection Australia reports, are available on the AIHW website. These reports are available free of charge.
Supporting information on relevant mandatory reporting requirements, legislation, jurisdictional policy and data systems are presented in appendixes A–C of the Child protection Australia reports. Supporting information is also provided in the footnotes accompanying supplementary data tables.
The first section of the Child protection Australia 2020–21 report, Understanding child protection, provides an overview of the child protection process and data collection, and the glossary provides definitions of key child protection terms.
Metadata for the CP NMDS is available on METeOR, the AIHW’s online metadata repository, and can be accessed at the following page: /content/index.phtml/itemId/748197
The CP NMDS is the authoritative source of national Australian child protection data.
The CP NMDS includes several modules on notifications, investigations and substantiations; care and protection orders; out-of-home care, authorised carers including foster and relative/kinship carers; and safety in care from 2020-21. Where available, these modules provide information on children within each system and the child protection cases, placements and households relating to children and the services provided.
The overlaps between the three primary modules (notifications, investigations and substantiations; care and protection orders; and out-of-home care) have also been analysed at the national level. The collection has a range of information about children who come into contact with the child protection system, including their date of birth, sex, Indigenous status and living arrangements. Data are also collected on the main type of substantiated abuse or neglect that has occurred: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect and the co-occurrence of these types of abuse or neglect.
The collection also includes the numbers of admissions to and discharges from care and protection orders and out-of-home care; and information on households providing foster and relative/kinship care placements.
As well as providing information on the current collection period, the collection also enables some trends to be examined, providing a valuable source of data for monitoring various components of the child protection system. Overall, these data give a detailed view of statutory child protection in Australia.
Data sourced from the CP NMDS are used for reporting:
Scope and coverage
CP NMDS data are based only on those cases reported to departments responsible for child protection. Therefore, it is likely the true prevalence of child abuse and neglect across Australia is understated. Further, notifications made to other organisations, such as the police or non-government welfare agencies, are included only if they were also referred to departments responsible for child protection.
As children may receive a combination of child protection services there are important links and overlaps between the notifications, investigations and substantiations; care and protection orders; and out-of-home care data modules. For example, children who are the subjects of substantiations may be placed on care and protection orders, and many children on care and protection orders are also in out-of-home care. The overall number of children receiving child protection services—along with the overlaps between the separate data modules—have been reported since 2012–13.
Each year, a number of children are the subjects of more than one notification and/or substantiation during the year. The proportion of children who were the subject of more than one substantiation in the year have also been reported since 2012–13.
The CP NMDS also includes data on safety in care. This refers to children who were the subject of a substantiation of abuse that occurred while they were in the care of the state. This includes abuse while the child was in out-of-home care, on a third party parental order, or on an order that transfers full or partial parental responsibility to an agent of the state or territory. These data have been reported since 2020–21.
Ongoing work is being undertaken on the CP NMDS to broaden the scope of the national data collection and to improve quality and comparability of data across jurisdictions.
Data for the CP NMDS are extracted each year from the administrative systems of the state and territory departments responsible for child protection in Australia, according to definitions and technical specifications agreed to by the departments and the AIHW. Data represent a ‘snapshot’ of the data at the time of extraction and may not include retrospective updates made to data held by state/territory departments.
Overall, the quality and coverage of the CP NMDS are good. However, data availability can affect the interpretability of some data.
Where data are missing for one or more jurisdiction(s), totals reported may be an undercount.
National child protection data have been provided to the AIHW since 1993 under the agreement between the Australian Government, the states and territories and the AIHW concerning the provision of data on welfare services. These data were provided in aggregate format by the state or territory departments responsible for child protection from 1990–91 to 2011–12.
The ability to replicate and expand on existing national reporting was the primary focus of the CP NMDS when it was implemented in 2012–13. Existing national technical specifications were retained and clarified as part of this process. From 2012–13 onwards the CP NMDS included data for all jurisdictions except New South Wales and Queensland who continued to provide aggregate child protection data.
Queensland supplied unit record CP NMDS files for the first time in 2014–15. Queensland data for 2014–15 onward are not comparable with data for previous years.
The Northern Territory provided unit record carer data for the first time in 2015–16, which may not be comparable to aggregate data provided by the Northern Territory prior to 2015–16. From 2018–19, the counting methodology for kinship care has been redefined in the Northern Territory. As a result, kinship care that has previously been counted under the ‘foster care’ category has been separated into foster and kinship to provide a more accurate reflection of the care provided.
The following changes were made to CP NMDS collection and reporting in 2020–21:
A nationally consistent definition for out-of-home care was implemented for all jurisdictions in 2018–19 and in 2019–20 the out-of-home care data were back cast to 2016–17 using the national definition. Due to data revisions, data for 2016–17 and 2017–18 may differ from those published elsewhere. Data should not be compared with data published in previous versions of Child protection Australia reports.
The standard AIHW practice is to present 5-year trends in data, as changes in state and territory legislation, policy/practice and information management systems reduce the ability to accurately compare CP NMDS data over longer periods. Changes that have an impact on the data are provided as caveats to the data and in relevant appendixes to Child protection Australia reports.
Increases over time in the number or rate of children receiving child protection services or support may relate to changes in the underlying rate of child abuse and neglect, increases in notifications and access to services, or a combination of these factors.
Data extracted from the CP NMDS represent a ‘snapshot’ of the data at the time of extraction and may not include retrospective updates made to data held by state/territory departments. Furthermore, data produced from the CP NMDS is based on nationally agreed specifications and may not match state and territory figures published elsewhere or be comparable with data for previous years.
Differences in data reported from the CP NMDS across the annual Child protection Australia and Report on Government Services reports may be due to retrospective updates to state/territory data and differences in the data extraction and analysis methodologies.
|Implementation start date:||01/07/2020|
Source and reference attributes
|Submitting organisation:||Australian Institute of Health and Welfare|
|Related metadata references:|
Supersedes Child Protection National Minimum Dataset, 2019–20 Data Quality Statement