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Child maltreatment : prevalence, risk, solutions, obstacles
Child maltreatment is a growing problem nationally in Australia. This paper documents the extent of the problem. It also presents a range of interventions shown to work, including a number that have been developed and used here in Australasia. However, despite the fact that there are evidence-based services available, the problem of child maltreatment continues to grow. Problems linked to implementing and sustaining an evidence-based program or culture include organisations that are resistant to change, whose staff see a new program as short-term and not a part of longer-term, routine service delivery. In the face of such a climate, these initial conditions then have potential to become exacerbated through hasty implementation of new services that are not well thought out, resourced or supported. With intervention services that have documented potential, the critical next step is to ensure that implementation is done correctly to guarantee successful services are being delivered effectively over the long term. Thus, following a description of the problem of child maltreatment and review of potential intervention-based solutions, this paper then discusses factors that need to be considered when advocating for or adopting a new, evidence-supported service. Psychologists have a role to play in the future to help stem the growth of child maltreatment in Australia, at both local service delivery as well as state and national policy levels.