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NAPCAN Calls for a National Summit to Prevent Child Maltreatment

NAPCAN 3 mins read
Playground child

At the official launch of Child Protection Week today, the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) and other child experts are calling for a National Summit to Prevent Child Maltreatment. 


NAPCAN CEO, Leesa Waters says keeping kids safe is the best investment we can make for a healthier, fairer Australia, now and into the future. 


“It’s not fair that 3 out of 5 - that’s 60% - of Australians experience at least one form of  maltreatment in childhood - either physical, emotional, sexual, domestic violence or neglect.”


Ms Waters said the key message from the recently released Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) is: ‘we can’t afford NOT to act’. 


“This world-first study is an incredible opportunity for all Australians. It gives us the evidence we need - about rates of abuse, about potential impacts, and about protective factors - to show that child abuse can be prevented. Critically, it tells us loud and clear that child abuse is a community issue that requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach.”


A letter has been sent to the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, urging the government to make children a national priority and to initiate the National Summit.


Professor Daryl Higgins, the Director of ACU’s Institute of Child Protection Studies who worked on the ACMS, says the time has come for action: 


“We need national political will and action to better support families, and enhance safeguarding in our schools, childcare centres, and other child-facing institutions. A National Summit is a chance to bring all stakeholders together in one room, at one time, to create a consensus around what needs to be done – urgently – to prevent harm to children.”


“A National Summit to address and implement effective and targeted primary prevention strategies is better than another Royal Commission or inquiry into the failures of child protection systems,” Professor Higgins says.


NAPCAN CEO Leesa Waters says the National Summit will link people together in a new way: 

“The Summit will bring together decision-makers, community leaders, industry experts - and most importantly those with lived experiences - to talk openly and honestly about what is working and not working.”


“I believe passionately that we need to involve the voices of children and young people and their parents, every single step of the way.”


“This call recognises decades of important work across the child welfare sector, and the many organisations, researchers, practitioners and government agencies who have long been advocating for greater investment in primary prevention,” NAPCAN CEO, Leesa Waters.


Outcomes from the Summit will influence a PREVENTION strategy that has shared accountability across all levels of government - Federal, State, Territory and Local.


“By joining together we are amplifying our voices and our actions to ensure that every child in every community has the opportunity to grow up loved and safe,” said Ms Waters.


“We know that what happens to us in childhood - both positive and negative - shapes how our brains grow - and our future health and wellbeing. We need to work together to get this right.” 


To learn more about NAPCAN’s call for a National Summit, and to read more about the events happening across the country during Child Protection Week, visit

Key Facts:



According the 2023 Australian Child Maltreatment Study, of 16-24 years olds in Australia:

-       43.8% were exposed to domestic violence

-       34.6% experienced emotional abuse

-       28.2% experienced physical abuse

-       25.7% experienced sexual abuse


SOURCE: Findings - The Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS)


NAPCAN & other leaders calling for the Summit

      Leesa Waters, CEO, National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

      Professor Daryl Higgins PhD MAPS, Director, Institute for Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University

      Dr Brian Babington AM, Visiting Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, College of Health and Medicine, The Australian National University

      Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, CEO, Health Justice Australia

      Karen Flanagan AM, Principal Advisor Child ProtectionSave the Children Australia

      Andrew McCallum AM, Former CEO, Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies and ACOSS President

      Simon Schrapel AM, Chief Executive, UnitingCommunities SA and former ACOSS President

      Professor Lyndall Strazdins, PhD, MAPS, FCCLP Director Engaged ANU Pilot, Director, ANU Mental Health and Wellbeing Project, Professor, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, College of Health and Medicine, The Australian National University


About us:

NAPCAN is the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. NAPCAN coordinates National Child Protection Week annually with support from the Department of Social Services and many organisations and individuals across Australia. 

Contact details:

Helen Fogarty, NAPCAN, 

0410 541 997 


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