Still Unseen & Ignored

Findings from the 2021 Australian Childhood Foundation Still Unseen & Ignored report show that over the past 20 years, child abuse is of less concern to the community than problems with public transport and roads.

This attitude is alarming and will allow for the continued abuse of children and young people.

“Not only is there a lack of awareness of the issues that children face, but also a lack of belief of children who disclose abuse. The community at large remains ambivalent about trusting children and lacks all of the building blocks required to prevent child abuse and adequately act to protect them from abuse and neglect. People are not aware of the true scale and impact of child abuse and do not believe that it is as widespread as it really is, or the level of risk that children and young people face in their own homes.”

Now, more than ever, it is important to reflect on how we value children as individuals and as a community.

After all, adult attitudes inform behaviour towards children and sit behind policies, programs and services that directly and indirectly impact children.

Key Insights

  • 1 in 3 respondents do not believe child abuse is a problem that they need be concerned about.
  • 67% of respondents believe that children make up stories about being abused or are uncertain whether to believe children when they disclosed abuse.
  • 1 in 5 respondents were not confident of being able to recognise that a child was being abused or neglected.
  • 22% of respondents had witnessed a child or young people being physically abused by an adult family member over the past five years.
  • Of most concern is that 1 in 6 who reported having witnessed abuse did nothing to protect the child or young person, leaving them in real danger.


  • The Commonwealth Government commits $50 million to resource a coordinated sustained public education campaign aimed at promoting awareness about child abuse and engaging the community to prioritise the protection of children from abuse, family violence and neglect. $50 million dollars represents approximately $100 for every child protection report made in Australia in the last year.
  • The Federal Government appoint a Minister for Children and Young People to represent the rights, needs and interests of all children, in particular those who are affected by violence, in Cabinet.
  • Governments urgently co-operate to re-establish the National Child Protection Council (made up of representatives from community, government and individuals with lived experience of child abuse and neglect) to oversee the implementation of a co-ordinated comprehensive national child abuse prevention strategy.
  • All sectors of the Australian community commit themselves to listening to and believing children.