Indigenous children suffer more abuse

Indigenous children are eight times as likely to suffer abuse or neglect than non-indigenous children, according to figures to be released on Wednesday.

The report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says there were 42 substantiated cases of abuse or neglect for every 1000 indigenous children aged 17 or under in 2011-12, compared with five cases per 1000 non-indigenous children.

Rates of sexual assault among indigenous children in 2012 were between two and four times higher than those for non-indigenous children in the four jurisdictions with available data: NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

In NSW, children aged up to nine were 2.5 times more likely than their non-indigenous counterparts to suffer sexual assault. Indigenous children between 10 and 14 years old were three times as likely as their non-indigenous peers to be victims of sexual assault.

Nationally, indigenous children were more than twice as likely to die from injuries such as falls, transport accidents and assault than non-indigenous children.

Between 2007 and 2011 there were 80 deaths from injury for every 100,000 indigenous children, compared with 34 deaths for every 100,000 non-indigenous children.

Land transport accidents were the most common cause of death from external injury for indigenous children. They were three times as likely to die in a land transport accident as non-indigenous children.

The second most common cause of death from external injury for indigenous children was intentional self-harm. Indigenous children were nearly seven times as likely to die from intentional self-harm than non-indigenous children.

Indigenous children were more than six times as likely as non-indigenous children to die from accidental poisoning.

The report said the relatively high rates of preventable injuries in indigenous communities had been attributed to a range of factors including rates of drug and alcohol use, violence, remoteness, unsafe roads and poor access to healthcare.

Between July 2010 and June 2012, the hospitalisation rate for assault for indigenous children was more than five times the rate for non-indigenous children.

Indigenous children were over-represented in the child protection system, among clients of homelessness services and in the youth justice system.

In 2011-12, indigenous children were roughly 10 times as likely to be on care and protection orders or in out-of-home care as non-indigenous children.

In 2012-13, indigenous children represented 5.5 per cent of Australian children but almost a third of children who received assistance from a homelessness agency.

On an average day in 2012-13, 61 per cent of all children aged between 10 and 13 under youth justice supervision were indigenous, while among those aged 10 to 17 under supervision, 39 per cent of all males and 45 per cent of all females were indigenous.

Indigenous children between 10 and 17 were 17 times as likely to be under youth justice supervision, and 28 times as likely to be detained as non-indigenous children.

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