Chief Investigators: Assoc Prof Stephanie Taplin, Dr Melissa O'Donnell (UWA), Prof Rhonda Marriott (Murdoch)

Partner Investigators: Prof Karen Broadhurt (University of Lancaster), Dr Fred Wulczyn (Chapin Hall)

Funding Source

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (2017-19) DP170101441


This study aims to increase our knowledge about the nature, extent and impact of the removal of infants (< 1 year old) and newborns (<31 days old) from their mothers. It will be conducted in two Australian jurisdictions (NSW and WA) and comparisons made with the findings from parallel studies in England and USA, via our partners on this project. The specific aims for this study are, in relation to NSW and WA, to:

  • Determine the incidence of removals of infants and newborns from their mothers over time, and how these vary by jurisdiction;
  • Determine the characteristics of women whose babies are removed from their care (e.g. Aboriginality) and the characteristics of women who have more than one baby removed from their care;
  • Determine the incidence and characteristics of mothers and their infants who are voluntarily relinquished;
  • Determine the factors associated with prenatal child protection reports and removals;
  • Examine the decision-making processes and factors considered when an infant is removed;
  • Examine the extent and nature of services and interventions provided to women reported during pregnancy; the policies, practices and planning undertaken pre-birth, and identification of best practice;
  • Examine the short-term care (and restoration) trajectories of infants removed;
  • Examine and compare the recent legislation and information on prenatal reporting and infant removals in Australian jurisdictions and internationally (including NZ, UK, USA, Canada, Nordic countries).
  • By addressing the study aims, we expect to describe the extent, nature and impact of prenatal reporting and infant removals in two different jurisdictions; outline the similarities and differences between Australian jurisdictions, UK, USA and other countries; and bring together the information from all project stages to provide recommendations for best practice in relation to prenatal reporting responses, and the identification of appropriate early intervention strategies which may reduce the need for babies to be removed from their parents. 

Associated publications

Lima, F., Taplin, S., Maclean, M., O'Donnell, M. (2023). Infants entering out-of-home care: Health, developmental needs and service provision. Child Abuse and Neglect, art. no. 106577. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2023.106577

O'Donnell, M., Burrow, S., Grose, M., Usher, R., Marriott, R.& Taplin, S. (2024). Child protection proceedings for infants: Analysis of court files to identify court outcomes and requirements for families in child protection safety plans. Children and Youth Services Review, 157, art. no. 107376. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2023.107376

O'Donnell, M., Lima, F., Maclean, M., Marriott, R., & Taplin, S. (2023). Infant and Pre-birth Involvement With Child Protection Across Australia. Child Maltreatment, 0(0).

O’Donnell, M., Taplin, S., Marriott, R., Lima, F. & Stanley, F.J. (2019) Infant removals: The need to address the over-representation of Aboriginal infants and community concerns of another ‘stolen generation’. Child Abuse & Neglect. 90, 88-98.

O’Donnell, M., Taplin, S., Marriott, R. (2019). Preventing another Stolen Generation in Australia: Crucial lessons from history are being ignored. Asia and Pacific Policy Society.

Trew, S., Taplin, S., O'Donnell, M., Marriott, R., & Broadhurst, K. (2022). Parents' experiences with child protection during pregnancy and post-birth. Child & Family Social Work, 1– 14.


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