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Child protection NMDS 2020–21

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Help on this termData Set Specification
METeOR identifier:Help on this term748197
Registration status:Help on this termChildren and Families, Standard 03/11/2021
DSS type:Help on this termNational Minimum Data Set (NMDS)
Scope:Help on this term

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020 (COAG 2009) on 30 April 2009, demonstrating all governments’ commitment to achieving a substantial and sustained reduction in child abuse and neglect in Australia. The development of a unit record data collection is seen as a major project under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.

Although each jurisdiction has its own legislation, policies and practices in relation to child protection, the processes used to protect children are broadly similar (AIFS: Bromfield & Higgins 2005). A simplified version of the main processes used in child protection systems across Australia is shown in Figure 1.1



Figure 1.1: The child protection process in Australia


1. Shaded boxes are items for which data are collected nationally.

2. Dashed lines indicate that clients might or might not receive these services, depending on need, service availability, and client willingness to participate in what are voluntary services.

3. Support services referred to in the box on the right include family preservation and reunification services provided by government departments responsible for child protection and other agencies. Children and families move in and out of these services and the statutory child protection system, and might also be in the statutory child protection system while receiving support services.

Source: AIHW 2021. Child protection Australia 2019–20. Child welfare series no. 74. Cat. no. CWS 78. Canberra: AIHW



The Child Protection National Minimum Data Set (2020-21) pertains to all children who had an involvement in any component of the child protection system throughout Australia in 2020-21. Children and young people are defined as those aged less than 18 years, including unborn children in jurisdictions where they are covered under the child protection legislation.

The data relate to notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, living arrangements for children under care (including children in funded out-of-home care and/or on orders), carers who were authorised to provide home-based out-of-home-care placements, National Out-of-Home Care Standards (i.e. children and young people aged 0-17 years whose care arrangements were ordered through the Children's Court, where parental responsibility for the child or young person was transferred to the Minister/Chief Executive), and siblings.

Additional information is collected to provide demographic details for each child protection client.

The Child Protection NMDS 2020-21 contains eight components all of which contain unit record level data:

  • child protection (CP) client file cluster
  • notifications, investigations and substantiations (NIS) file cluster
  • care and protection order (CPO) file cluster
  • living arrangements for children under care (LA) file cluster
  • carer household authorisation file cluster
  • National Out-of-Home Care Standards file cluster
  • sibling file cluster
  • safety in care file cluster.

Collection and usage attributes

Implementation start date:Help on this term01/07/2019
Implementation end date:Help on this term30/06/2021
Comments:Help on this term

Data are extracted as at 31 August. The 2020-21 reporting period is the main collection period. Data for 2019-20 are also collected to allow specific calculations to be undertaken.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Help on this term

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Steward:Help on this termAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare
Origin:Help on this term

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2021. Child protection national minimum data set, data collection manual 2020-21. Canberra: AIHW.

Reference documents:Help on this term

AIFS (Australian Institute of Family Studies): Bromfield L & Higgins DJ 2005. National comparison of child protection systems. Melbourne: AIFS.

AIHW 2021. Child protection Australia 2019–20. Child welfare series no. 74. Cat. no. CWS 78. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 24 May 2021, 

Council of Australian Governments 2009. Protecting Children is Everyone's Business. National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020. FACHSIA. Viewed 8 February 2021,


Relational attributes

Related metadata references:Help on this term

Supersedes Child protection NMDS 2019–20 Children and Families, Superseded 03/11/2021

See also The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2018–19 Children and Families, Standard 03/03/2021

Metadata items in this Data Set SpecificationHelp on this term

Seq No.Help on this termMetadata itemHelp on this term ObligationHelp on this term Max occursHelp on this term
1Child protection (CP) client file clusterMandatory1
2Notifications, investigations, and substantiations (NIS) file clusterMandatory1
3Care and protection order (CPO) file clusterMandatory1
4Living arrangements for children under care (LA) file clusterMandatory1
5Carer household authorisation file clusterMandatory1
6National out-of-home care standards (NOOHCS) file clusterMandatory1
7Sibling file clusterOptional99
8Safety in care (SC) file clusterMandatory99
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