The study reviewed a 25-year dataset of child abuse and neglect concerns, examining child and family factors associated with re-referral.
Suspected child abuse and neglect data collated from a variety of sources including child protection, health, police and education by a multidisciplinary Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect team for the 25-year period of 1980 to 2005 was entered for analysis. Case referral criteria for the team included clinician perception of the case as being complex and necessitating multidisciplinary case planning. The dataset contained 6669 cases of child abuse and neglect concerns, relating to 5943 unique children.
The majority of children (90.5%) experienced only one referral to the team, with the remaining experiencing between 2–6 referrals. Through the utilisation of regression analysis, the factors of number of abuse types present at the initial concern, parental abuse as a child, parental intellectual disability, parental history of violence, perpetrator of intrafamilial origin, disabled children in family, and financial stress in family were found to significantly predict complex case re-referral respectively.
Children within this Australian sample of complex cases experienced rates of re-referral similar to those reported internationally. Family and child factors identified as predictors of re-referral in this 25-year dataset support previous international studies on statutory child protection re-referral, and evidence for the association between previously unstudied variables and re-referral likelihood for complex cases.