Family Matters No. 85 - September 2010

Preventing violence, abuse and neglect against women and children

National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children

In April 2009, the Council of Australian Governments endorsed Protecting Children is Everyone's Responsibility: National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020. The National Framework is an ambitious, long-term approach to improving the safety and wellbeing of Australia's children developed in partnership by Commonwealth, state and territory governments. The framework moves Australia's approach from seeing child protection as a response to abuse and neglect to promoting the safety and wellbeing of children, and explicitly adopts a public health approach to care and protection.

The framework sets out high-level objectives and targets, along with supporting outcomes and a series of actions that sit under the supporting outcomes. The high-level objective of the framework is that "Australia's children and young people are safe and well", and the national target is "a substantial and sustained reduction in child abuse and neglect". The six supporting outcomes, which reflect the strategic intent and critical issues being addressed by the framework are:

  • children live in safe and supportive families and communities;
  • children and families access adequate support to promote safety and intervene early;
  • risk factors for child abuse and neglect are addressed;
  • children who have been abused or neglected receive the support and care they need for their safety and wellbeing;
  • Indigenous children are supported and safe in their families and communities; and
  • child sexual abuse and exploitation is prevented and survivors receive adequate support.

Three-year implementation plans outline the priority action areas, governance and performance monitoring structure for the framework.

The national target and the six supporting outcomes clearly reflect that the national framework is intended as a coordinated and strategic approach to addressing the key challenges in child protection. One of the primary drivers underpinning the framework is a strong focus on prevention (e.g., preventing abuse and neglect, preventing entry into care) and on a coordinated and integrated service system.

For the full framework document, see Protecting Children is Everyone's Business National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009–-2020.

Reducing violence against women and their children

In March 2009, Time for Action: The National Council's Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009-2021, was released. In collaboration with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, the plan expresses a strong commitment toward the achievement in the reduction of sexual and physical violence against women and their children.

The plan sets out three levels of achievement, namely, a vision, a guiding principle and six outcomes that include both immediate and ongoing actions.

The vision of the plan for Australia is that "women and their children live free from violence, within respectful relationships and in safe communities". The guiding principle states that "no woman should be a victim of sexual assault or domestic and family violence, and that no woman should fear for her safety at home, at work or in her community". In response to the complexity of issues being addressed, the six outcomes are that:

  • communities are safe and free from violence;
  • relationships are respectful;
  • services meet the needs of women and their children;
  • responses are just;
  • perpetrators stop their violence; and
  • systems work together effectively.

The framework identifies an initial 20 actions requiring urgent implementation and a further 21 actions in the initial three-year implementation plan.

The framework seeks to address the issue of sexual and physical violence against women and their children by utilising a primary prevention strategy that aims to change the attitudes and behaviours of perpetrators of violence. The vision, guiding principle and six outcomes indicate the commitment to integrated and coordinated strategies in confronting critical issues in the protection of women and their children from violence.

For more information about the plan and associated documents, visit National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children.