The City of Greater Bendigo is expected to reaffirm its commitment to improving the prospects of its youngest residents at its council meeting on May 16.
Yet data included in a Municipal Early Years Plan annual progress report indicates there’s a great deal of work still to be done, with the city’s children experiencing a higher rate of police callouts for family incidents than the state average.
While police were called out to 1238 family incidents per 100,000 Victorians in 2016/17, the rate of police callouts in Greater Bendigo during the same period was 1430.3.
(Story continues below Greater Bendigo MYEP annual progress report).
The rates of both substantiated child abuse and children in out of home care in Greater Bendigo were also of concern, with 2011 statistics indicating the municipality’s children were at significantly higher risk in both categories.
“The rate of substantiated child abuse in Greater Bendigo was 10.1 per 1000 children aged 0 – 17 years in 2011, compared to 6.7 per 1000 children in Victoria,” the annual progress report stated.
“The rate of children in out of home care in Greater Bendigo was 8.8 per 1000 children aged 0 – 17 years in 2011, compared to 4.6 per 1000 children in Victoria.”
It is not yet known whether the figures from 2011 are consistent with current trends, or those of previous years.
(Story continues below Greater Bendigo May 16 meeting agenda).
City of Greater Bendigo community wellbeing manager Chris Kelly said achieving the goals outlined in the plan required a whole-of-community approach.
“I think there's an enormous commitment and understanding that what we do from those early years impacts on life outcomes in a way that no other period in your life does,” she said.
Centre for Non-Violence chief executive Margaret Augerinos said it was critical there were adequate front-line responses in a range of areas to improve outcomes for children.
“Identifying abuse and responding to it is important,” she said.
If you or someone you know is affected, call the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.
To report child abuse and neglect, click here.