Failing Victoria’s children and families: Crisis in child protection system

Did you know the number of Victorian children and families involved with child protection each year is the highest in Australia and growing much faster than the national average? 

And COVID-19 is making things even worse. Children and families already experiencing a range of challenges are disproportionately affected.

If we don’t act now, and we see continued severe impacts from COVID-19, it’s projected that an additional 4,500 children and young people will be in out-of-home care by 2026. This is on top of the 23,000 children and young people already predicted to be in care based on current, unsustainable growth rates.

That’s 27,500 children and young people separated from their families.

This is a crisis.

The Victorian Government must overhaul the child protection system and invest in targeted early intervention as a matter of urgency.

The social and economic case for targeted early intervention is clear. New research by Social Ventures Australia, commissioned by Berry Street and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, shows why investment now is critical.

Investing $193M annually over 10 years, in the face of severe impacts from COVID-19 will see:

  • 1,460 children prevented from entering out-of-home care or progressing to residential care every year
  • 9,150 children access targeted early intervention programs, supporting them to stay safely with their families
  • Victoria save $1.99 billion over 10 years.

Find out more and what you can do to help.

Advocating for change: Courageously changing lives and reimagining service systems

Berry Street is a strong and independent voice for the children, young people and families with whom we work. We do not accept social injustice, inequality, or system failure. We act to:

  • reorientate the child and family system towards early intervention and prevention
  • keep families safe and together
  • support children and young people to reach their full potential 
  • allow children and young people to engage with their cultures and communities. 

Policy position statements

Read our policy positions on a range of important issues and our call for change at State and Federal levels.

We are stronger when we act together

Berry Street is also a proud partner and supporter of Home Stretch, Anti-Poverty Week, Everybody Counts, Smart Justice for Young People and Raise the Rate.

What can you do to help? 

Join us on our journey to reimagine the system and courageously change lives. 

  • Follow Michael Perusco, Berry Street CEO, on Twitter to keep up to date as we advocate for change
  • Share our social media posts and help get the message out – Victoria is facing a crisis and we must invest in early intervention now!
  • Subscribe to our enews, which includes regular updates on early intervention
  • Support Berry Street by donating and help us courageously change lives and reimagine service systems

Together we can reimagine the future.

Berry Street Employment - Capability Framework

As part of our advocacy work, Berry Street submits to state and federal government inquiries relating to child, youth, and family services. You can find published submissions here.

The latest research from Social Ventures Australia shows the strengthened case for early intervention in the child protection and out-of-home care system in Victoria in the face of COVID-19

Support services and advocacy groups working with people affected by abuse:

Find and Connect

Phone: 1800 161 109

Open Place

Victoria’s Support Service for Forgotten Australians

Phone: 1800 779 379

Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA)

Note that AFA is a national advocacy organisation not a support service

Phone: (02) 6273 4885

Beyond Blue

Phone: 1300 22 4636


Phone: 13 11 14

SANE Australia Helpline

Phone: 1800 187 663

Suicide Call Back Service

Phone: 1300 659 467

Mensline (National)

Phone: 1300 789 978

Australian Psychological Society Referral Line

Phone: 1800 333 497


Phone: 1800 272 831

Blue Knot Helpline

Support for adults who have experienced childhood trauma and abuse.

Phone: 1300 657 380

Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN)

Phone: 1800 008 774