Professor Ilan Katz, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Arts & Social Sciences
Modern child protection systems were developed in the 1960s and 1970s in response to the ‘recognition’ of child abuse (and later child sexual abuse) at that time.
From the beginning, however, child protection systems have been controversial and contested. The systems have been accused of being unjust to children, parents and particular communities. They have been accused of being too draconian but of failing to adequately protect vulnerable children. They are overwhelmed with unsubstantiated reports, yet most child abuse is never reported. Child protection systems internationally are characterised by disproportionate numbers of Indigenous and minority ethnic children. Numerous attempts at reform have been undertaken, most of which have ended in failure.
This talk will examine whether it is possible, even in principle, to establish a just child protection system. Can a system be fair to parents, children and the public? Can it balance protection and support? How can the disproportionality of Indigenous and minority ethnic children be understood and addressed?
Ilan Katzjoined the Social Policy Research Centre in 2005, becoming the centre’s director in July 2007-2011. After graduating as a social worker in South Africa, he started his career in the UK working as a social worker and manager in child protection and disability. He was for several years Head of Practice Development and Research at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). After spending some time as a civil servant in the then Department for Education and Skills, he returned to research as Deputy Director of the Policy Research Bureau.
His research interests include child protection, prevention and family support, parenting, disability, youth justice, Indigenous policy, children and communities, mental health, and migration, race and ethnicity. He has led a number of large-scale evaluations and research programs, both in Australia and internationally, including evaluations of youth mental health programs and research on child protection in China. His particular expertise lies in linking research findings to policy and practice. He has provided advice to governments on child protection issues in Australia and internationally.