Greens spokesperson for Child Protection Hon Alison Xamon MLC has renewed her call for the establishment of an independent child advocacy service to better protect children from harm, to mark today's White Balloon Day.
Ms Xamon said child abuse was entirely preventable – and protecting children was a whole-of-community responsibility.
She said the latest figures from National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) showed more than 35,000 Australian children were abused or neglected in 2017.
“More than 35,000 children in one year is a staggering amount,” Ms Xamon said.
“I echo the NAPCAN’s concerns that child abuse and neglect is one of the greatest barriers and threats to the wellbeing of Australian children, young people and the next generation of children and adults.”
Ms Xamon said lack of a comprehensive system of independent oversights for children in out of home care remained a glaring gap in WA’s child protection system.
She said while the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Colin Petit, was responsible for some excellent work, his role was limited by legislation and the inability to take individual complaints, while HaDSCO and the Ombudsman were not set up for children, particularly those who are vulnerable.
“We need somewhere vulnerable children can go when they have concerns about their care – particularly in youth justice detention; police custody; residential care; secure or foster care, or in educational institutions,” Ms Xamon said.
“They need an avenue and an advocate.
“Children rely on adults to protect them – we must make sure we put in place all the mechanisms which will ensure this happens.”