Child abuse and neglect is an important public health issue in Australia and internationally. There is an increasing focus on preventing child abuse by addressing health, social and economic factors that make child abuse and neglect more likely. Given the complexity of factors contributing to child abuse, effective collaboration and a shared vision across all organisations, sectors and disciplines working with children is required. This review explored how responses to child abuse and neglect are conceptualised in Australian government policy. The main finding was a lack of consistent conceptualisations across policy documents and a shared language of child abuse and neglect, which presents barriers to multi-disciplinary and intersectoral collaboration. Clarification of health professionals’ roles and how they should work together is urgently required in future policy. Furthermore, although policies relating to children's health and safety acknowledged the role of the social determinants of health in child abuse and neglect, this needs to be complemented with a coherent equity agenda across broader health, social and economic policy. Promoting equity is especially important for Australia's First Nations communities who are disproportionately impacted by health, social and economic conditions contributing to child abuse and neglect.
- Child abuse
- Health professions
- Intersectoral collaboration
- Public health
- Social determinants of health