Act for Kids Ipswich practice manager and clinical psychologist Bianca Heaphy. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Act for Kids Ipswich practice manager and clinical psychologist Bianca Heaphy. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Tsunami of child abuse reports expected as restrictions lift

THE head of a major Australian charity which supports children and families who have experienced, or are at risk, of child abuse and neglect said a "tsunami" of unreported cases is on the way.

Act for Kids CEO Dr Neil Carrington said we are in the eye of the storm due to COVID-19 restrictions and Ipswich was an area of particular concern.

The charity has serviced the city for five years and supported about 100 children and young people in that time.

Act for Kids helped 46,084 children and families nationally last year with more than 400 staff across the country.

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation has recently provided more funding to support the Walk Tall program, which will be delivered at the Act for Kids centre in Ipswich and the Daniel House on the Sunshine Coast

Dr Carrington said it was an important partnership.

"Bruce and Denise Morcombe have donated hundreds of thousands through their foundation to provide free counselling to support victims of abuse and neglect," he said.

"We receive no government funding for the service at Ipswich. When we did our research analysis it told us that it was an area of concern.

"In other words, there was a lot of need and not a lot of services being provided in that area.

"This service is about putting those little lives back together."

Dr Carrington said restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic were creating a particularly concerning situation.

Research showed some countries are seeing a 300 per cent increase reports of child abuse and neglect when they come out on the other side of isolation.

"Over 90 per cent of those who harm children are in a position of love and trust," he said.

"There's not as many eyes on the child and particularly those vulnerable kids.

"It leads to a drop in reported cases of abuse and neglect. It's a false dawn. You think things are much better in the midst of all this.

"The data from overseas says there's a tsunami coming.

"We're quite concerned about what's waiting us a couple of months down the track."

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"We're incredibly stretched," Dr Carrington said.

"There's a big wait list out there in Ipswich."

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor.