Media Releases - 3 April 2023

Australian Child Maltreatment Study findings demand action

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Leanne McLean said the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) study findings released today are a wakeup call for all of Australia including Tasmania and urgent action is required.

The ACMS study provides the first nationally representative findings of all five types of child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and exposure to domestic violence) and their associated outcomes in Australia.

“What the ACMS findings do is show us just how widespread and harmful child maltreatment is and how broad and long-lasting its impacts are,” Ms McLean said.

“The research has found that:

  • Child maltreatment is widespread
  • Girls experience particularly high rates of sexual abuse and emotional abuse
  • Child maltreatment is a major problem affecting today’s Australian children and youth – it is not just something that happened in the past
  • Child maltreatment is associated with severe mental health problems and behavioural harms, both in childhood and adulthood
  • Child maltreatment is associated with severe health risk behaviours, both in childhood and adulthood
  • Emotional abuse is particularly harmful and is much more damaging than society has understood

“The research also revealed other concerning trends. Some types of maltreatment are becoming more common, including emotional abuse, some types of sexual abuse, and exposure to domestic violence. Concerningly, new types of sexual victimisation are also emerging.”

Ms McLean said, promisingly, the research also demonstrates reductions in physical abuse, and in some types of sexual abuse.

“This tells us that policies and programs can and do make a difference.

“The detailed evidence from the ACMS research, tells us what we need to know to develop a national strategic, evidence-based, cross-sector, whole-of-government and indeed a whole-of community approach to reducing child maltreatment and its consequences.

“We need to invest more, and we need to invest better. With the ACMS findings there is no longer any excuse not to.”


The ACMS findings will be launched officially by the ACMS tomorrow, Tuesday 4 April, 2023. The ACMS findings can be found here:

If you need support, help is available: Support Services | The Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS)