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Child abuse is commonly understood to include physical, sexual, or psychological mistreatment of a child or young person, especially by a parent or other caregiver such as a foster or grandparent carer.  However, child abuse can also include neglect by a parent or other caregiver that results in actual or potential harm to a child.  Child neglect can occur across a spectrum of behaviours including:

  • inadequate supervision, leading to the risk of physical harm or injury;
  • failure to provide adequate clothing, housing or food;
  • failure to provide appropriate medical care;
  • emotional neglect, such as lack of caregiver warmth, encouragement and support;
  • abandonment, including leaving a child alone or not providing age-appropriate care; and
  • failure to provide an education and/or the tools required to participate in the education system.

In recent years there have been consistent and alarming increases in the reported levels of child neglect and abuse in Australia.  The largest increases have occurred in reports of emotional neglect, with the rate of other types of child neglect and abuse remaining steady between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

In seeking to identify how visitors to our website attribute accountability for different elements of child neglect, Relationships Australia’s October 2016 online survey asked respondents to tell us who they considered had the most responsibility for supporting children or young people affected by a range of types of neglect by a parent or other caregiver.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites