Children increasingly at risk from drug and alchol issues: report

Parental mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse are the fastest growing causes of child protection reports in NSW, figures show.

The figures, compiled by Professor Sharon Dawe from the Griffith University, were presented to over 200 DoCS case workers at a Government-funded conference.

NSW community services minister Kevin Greene said the number of children reported to DoCS increased 9.9 per cent to around 80,000 over the last year, with the reports on children under one year old showing a significant increase of 21.3 per cent during the same period.

According to Mr Greene, children in NSW are increasingly at risk of harm from parents with mental health, drug or alcohol problems.

“The mental health of people caring for children is one of the most reported child protection issues. Latest figures show that reports in this category are up 19 per cent from 5,549 in the last three months of 2006 to 6,601 in the December 2007 quarter,” he said.

“Parental alcohol and drug use issues in child protection report increased 21.1 per cent during the same period. In fact, research shows at least half the families in Australia known to child protection services suffer from parental substance misuse.”

Mr Greene said providing child protection workers with the up-to-date statistics would help them better understand the destructive side-effects of problematic drug and alcohol use.

“There are no quick fixes when it comes to drugs, but we can give frontline caseworkers the research they need to recognise and protect children from the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse,” he said.

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