|The Financial Cost of Child Abuse Is Ten Times the Financial Cost of Obesity in Australia
November 19, 2008
Child abuse and neglect costs Australians ten times more than obesity, a landmark report has found. The report has also found that the number of cases of abuse in our community may be five times higher than the official figures.
The Cost of Child Abuse in Australia, a joint research report by Access Economics, Australian Childhood Foundation and Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia at Monash University, is the first comprehensive report of its kind in Australia. It found that the real cost of child abuse to the Australian community in 2007 was $10.7 billion, and could be as high as $30.1 billion, including the monetary value of the pain and suffering that they experience.
Professor Chris Goddard, Director of Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia at Monash University said this is the first comprehensive, national study of the costs of child abuse and neglect in Australia.
"It clearly demonstrates the importance of accountability and transparency. To spend so much and know so little defies belief. There also needs to be greater investment in research and evaluation," Professor Goddard said.
"Official estimates from Government child protection authorities are unreliable because there is no uniform national data collection system," Professor Goddard said.
The figures account for the costs associated with protecting and caring for child victims of abuse, including the wages for professional workers such as doctors, nurses, police, social workers, judges, probation officers, teachers and foster carers. It also includes responding to crime associated with child abuse and neglect, additional government expenditure on educational assistance for victims, poorer long-term labour market outcomes and an estimate of the total cost of the pain and suffering experienced by child victims of abuse.
While there were 36,000 substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect in Australia in 2007, the report estimates that there approximately 177,000 children abused or neglected and this figure could be even higher. The report also calculated that the cost to the community of the consequences of abuse over the lifetime of children who were abused for the first time in 2007 is approximately $13.7 billion and could be as high as $38.7 billion, including the monetary value of the pain and suffering that they experience.
"The results of this report highlight the urgent need for a national uniform approach to one of Australia's most serious -- and financially crippling -- problems," Professor Goddard said.
The report coincides with a new national campaign, Stop Child Abuse Now, launched by the Australian Childhood Foundation. The campaign directs people to the Australian Childhood Foundation website where they can learn more about how they can prevent child abuse and better protect children.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Samantha Blair, Media and Communications + 61 3 9903 4841 or mobile +61 439 013 951.
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