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Child protection professionals experiencing high levels of violence

Media Release

10 March 2004

Professionals working in child protection are experiencing high levels of violence, threats and intimidation, Dr Toni Makkai, the Acting Director of the AIC said today.

More than 90% of child protection professionals had experienced intimidating behaviour, 72% had experienced threats of violence, 41% had experienced ongoing harassment and 24% had experienced actual physical assault.

"The research shows that parents and caregivers of the child being protected were more likely to be the aggressors in the majority of cases", said Dr Makkai.

The study found that a number of professionals felt unsupported by management and/or work colleagues, and in some cases they had been stigmatised and bullied.

Over two thirds of the professionals reported feeling burnt out by their work with teachers feeling burnt out more frequently than other professionals.

There is a need to pay more attention to the mental health of professionals involved in child protection, and to improve management responses to workers who encounter abuse and intimidation.

The study, published by the AIC and funded by the Criminology Research Council, involved 589 child protection professionals in a range of occupations in the health, education, social welfare and justice sectors across Australia.