Child abuse claims from Gympie to Strathpine rose by 20% in the last financial year.
Child abuse claims from Gympie to Strathpine rose by 20% in the last financial year. Renee Pilcher

Child abuse complaints on the rise

POLICE are investigating an average of 20 child abuse complaints every week from Gympie to Strathpine, as new figures show the community is increasingly concerned about its children.

New figures show the North Coast region, which takes in Gympie, the Sunshine Coast, Redcliffe and Caboolture, has had a 20% increase in child abuse claims.

There were 15,816 reports from parents, neighbours, health sources, police and schools in the last financial year.

It is a 20% increase from the year before.

Gympie police district Superintendent Chris Sang said the new figures were no surprise to him as the community was increasingly vigilant about stopping child abuse.

"Of course, child abuse can range from slapping a child to failing to provide food and clothing etcetera, so there are a whole range of things that come under that definition," he said.

Child Safety Services figures show nominated children determined as needing immediate protection are down by 6%.

Eighty-three per cent of reports from the public are determined by authorities as worthy of "prevention" intervention, where intervention and access to support services could ward off the need for further intervention down the track while keeping the family together.

This type of classification is described as "child protection reports".

The figures, which suggest the region has a high priority in caring for children, show it has the jump on a new national campaign encouraging all Australian families to help stop child abuse before it begins.

Child Abuse Prevention Service manager Karen Craigie said more than 32,000 children were subject to a child protection report over the past three years.

"These statistics remind us that there isn't a single community out there that can escape the impact of child abuse," Ms Craigie said.

Earlier this year the North Coast Region Department of Communities Placement Services for children who required protection was named as a finalist in a Best Practice State Government award.

Sunshine Coast police have a team of 20 detectives in the Child Protection Investigation Unit across the region who investigate child-related crime, including juvenile offenders.

A smaller team investigates reports of child abuse.

The Sunshine Coast's CPIU receives more than 1000 reports of child abuse a year.

Child safety North Coast region

  •   Population 762,579
  •   Child abuse complaints 2009-10: 12,522
  •   Child abuse complaints 2010-11: 15,816
  •   Children subject to ongoing intervention 2009-10: 1334
  •   Children subject to ongoing intervention 2010-11: 1134
  •   Children in need of protection 2009-10: 571
  •   Children in need of protection 2010-11: 560