Knowledge and Resource Hub
19 December 2018

The economic cost of child abuse and neglect

This article from AIFS outlines the direct and indirect economic costs of child abuse and neglect for each Australian state and territory and the national governments. Nationally, approximately $5.2 billion in 2016/17 was spent on child protection, OOHC services, intensive family support services and family support services. This was an increase of 8.5% from 2015/16. Of this expenditure, OOHC services accounted for the majority of the spend (59.5%, or $3.1 billion). The immediate economic costs to the community of providing child protection services, OOHC and support services is only one facet of the overall cost associated with child abuse and neglect. The longer-term or indirect financial costs associated with child abuse and neglect are also substantial and carried not by the perpetrator but by the child and society. National and international research has demonstrated a number of adverse effects of child abuse and neglect, such as future alcohol and substance misuse, mental illness, poor physical health, homelessness, juvenile offending, criminality and incarceration. Other long-term consequences such as educational failures, premature death and low workforce participation can lead to a considerable reduction in the productive potential of society and a lower gross domestic product. Therefore preventing child abuse and neglect is critical because of the social costs of child abuse and neglect and the imperative to prevent children from experiencing its devastating effects.