Hundreds of Aussie kids murdered by parents
EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 300 children have been killed by their parents or guardians in the past 12 years and many of the families were not on the radar of the Child Support system, a shocking new study has found.
Every two weeks on average, a child is killed by a parent or guardian, the study found.
Mothers are almost as likely to be the killer as fathers or stepfathers, the Monash University researchers have found.
Two thirds of the victims were less than five years old but one in 10 were aged over 18 including one person aged 33, the Australian Institute of Criminology report to be released today shows.
The first ever national tally of filicide rates, the killing of one's son or daughter, has found while the homicide rate nationally is falling, the number of children being killed by their parents is not.
And our filicide incidence is higher than countries like England and Canada.
Since the study period ended in 2012, there has been a number of shocking mass murders where a parent is the alleged killer.
Last year, Anthony Harvey allegedly killed his three children and their mother in Perth, and in 2015, a coroner found Geoff Hunt killed his wife Kim and their three children in Lockhart, NSW.
Cairns mother Mersane Warria will never stand trial because of mental illness but she was charged with killing seven of her own children and a nephew in 2014.
The Monash University study found many child killings involved more than a single child victim.
Between 2000 and 2012, 28 incidents involved two victims and nine incidents involved three victims.
Seven per cent of filicide incidents (16) also involved the homicide of the offender's current or former intimate partner.
Evidence from Victoria, showed there had been a decline in child killings where the family was known to Child Support but not in other families, study author Thea Brown said.
However, only one in three of the families involved in the child killings were known to the child support system.
There were a total of 238 incidents of filicide between 2000 and 2012 involving 284 victims and 260 offenders.
The largest number of filicide incidents were recorded in New South Wales (72; 30%), followed by Queensland (65; 27%) and Victoria (47; 20%).
The lowest number of filicide incidents was recorded in the Australian Capital Territory (2; 1%) and Tasmania (2; 1%).
Victims killed by their father were more likely to die as a result of being beaten while those killed by their mother were most likely to die as a result of strangulation/suffocation.
Victims between five and nine years of age were more likely than any other age group to die as a result of poisoning/injection while victims 10 to 14 years of age were more likely to die as a result of stab wounds.
Three-quarters of filicide victims were killed by a custodial parent of which just under one-third were mothers.
Fourteen per cent of filicide victims were killed by a step-parent and ten per cent by a non-custodial parent.
All step-parent offenders were fathers, as were all but one of the non-custodial parent offenders.
The report found major risk factors associated with perpetrators include mental illness, especially among mothers, domestic violence, inflicted by fathers and stepfathers, parental separation, past child abuse, substance abuse and past criminal history.
Criminal history, often associated with violence, affecting fathers and stepfathers and, less often, mothers was a new factor to be identified.
Ms Brown said she hoped by recording the child murders for the first time politicians would focus on the extent of the problem and work on policy solutions.
One policy solution might be to make staff mental health institutions, child safety bodies and family courts responsible when they released a person into the community when there was evidence they may harm their children.