Abandoned Calls Plague South Australian Child Abuse Report Line

3 min read
Abandoned Calls Plague South Australian Child Abuse Report Line

South Australia’s Child Abuse Report Line is under the spotlight today after it was revealed that some callers wanting to make a report had to wait almost seven hours for their call to be received. 

This data, released through the Freedom of Information Act after an application by Independent MLC John Darley, also showed that a large number of calls to the line were abandoned. Likely connected to the long wait times, statistics between June 30, 2015 and July 1, 2016 showed 21,918 calls were abandoned by callers. This is almost half of all the calls made to the line.

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Following the release of the data, Mr. Darley called on the South Australian Government to ensure the hotline is prioritised as a part of the launch of the new Child Protection Department today. This agency was recently split from the Education Department after a recommendation from the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission.

According to data obtained by Mr Darley’s application, the average wait time for calls to be answered on the Child Abuse report time was 39 minutes and 24 seconds. However, the longest wait time recorded was six hours, 56 minutes, 14 seconds.

“I think it’s just absolutely pathetic with all the hype from the South Australian Government and [Premier] Jay Weatherill about child abuse etcetera for people to have to wait these sorts of times. It is just not on,” Mr Darley said in response to the data.

“People are not calling for no reason at all, and it just shows an absolute lack of interest by [the Department of] Families and Communities to do anything about this.”

Mr Darley also noted that professionals such as doctors and teachers, who are required by law to report matters to the line, rarely had seven hours to spare in order to speak to an operator.

“The Government needs to fix this problem by giving all mandatory reporters access to a separate line,” he said.

Mr Darley isn’t the only one who feels that these wait times aren’t quite right. Child Development Minister Susan Close also admitted that the waiting times were not acceptable and that the call line was a part of a long list of reforms being actioned by the new department.

“Improving the service for the call line is absolutely crucial, but so too is the response that we give to children who are in need and so to is [ensuring] when children come into our system that they have families to live with and they’re not going into residential or commercial care,” Close said.

She also admitted that the Government had struggled to get on top of the issue, and had been making changes following the recommendation of the royal commission.

“The Government was proposing to have non-social workers answering the calls in order to speed up the times for people trying to ring in,” she said.

“We were set to proceed with that and then [commissioner] Margaret Nyland recommended explicitly not to do that.

“We’ve tried to create efficiencies elsewhere but it is an absolute challenge because there are so many more calls coming through.”

Close also mentioned an email address that had been set up to take reports, noting that it too had been overwhelmed.

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Oceana Setaysha

Senior Writer A passionate writer since her early school days, Oceana has graduated from writing nonsense stories to crafting engaging content for...Read Morean online audience. She enjoys the flexibility to write about topics from lifestyle, to travel, to family. Although not currently fulfilling the job of parent, her eight nieces and nephews keep her, and her reluctant partner, practiced and on their toes. Oceana holds a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Writing and Indonesian, and has used her interest in languages to create a career online. She's also the resident blonde at, where she shares her, slightly dented, wisdom on photography, relationships, travel, and the quirks of a creative lifestyle. Read Less

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