Cumulative incidence of child protection system contacts among a cohort of Western Australian Aboriginal children born 2000 to 2013


Background: Reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system is a key target for the Australian government.

Objective: We aimed to provide more recent evidence on the population-level cumulative incidence of contacts for Aboriginal children with child protective services (CPS) in Western Australia (WA).

Participants and Setting: Linked administrative data was provided for WA CPS between 2000 and 2015 for 33,709 Aboriginal children born in WA between 2000 and 2013.

Methods: Descriptive summaries and cumulative incidence estimates were used to examine changes in CPS contact trends over time and within sibling groups.

Results: There was an increase in early-childhood contacts for children born more recently, with 7.6% and 2.3% of children born in 2000–2001 having a notification and placement in out-of-home care by age one, respectively, compared to 15.1% and 4.3% of children born in 2012–2013. Among sibling groups where at least one sibling had a CPS contact, approximately half of children had their first contacts on the same date as another sibling. For children born after one of their siblings had been placed in out-of-home care, 31.9% had themselves been placed in out-of-home care by age one.

Conclusions: Multiple children tend to be placed into out-of-home care when at least one sibling is, which is likely to have a significant impact on families affected. The additional risk of placement also carries over to children born after the first removal in a sibling group, highlighting the need for further support to prevent future removals.

Child Abuse & Neglect