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Why early intervention is critical

A group of five children outside playing soccer

A system in crisis

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?

The child protection system in Victoria is not working and is causing harm. For too many children and families, their experience of child protection is one of trauma, despair and family separation.

The system needs to be one of hope, where children and families get support that recognises their strengths and allows them to thrive.

The number of children in care has doubled in the last 5 years — and it’s on track to double again in the next 5 years. That is a shocking potential scenario, and we have to change it.

We have to do this better. And there a range of ways we can reimagine the service system, but at the moment, the key one for us is ensuring that the system points towards early intervention.

Michael Perusco Berry Street CEO

This is why one of Berry Street's key goals is to reorientate the child and family system towards early intervention and prevention, as well as family violence services and the education system.

Investment needed now

Berry Street, along with partners across the sector, is calling on the Victorian Government to reform the child protection system and invest in targeted early intervention now.

Shifting the system towards early intervention will allow families to:

  • stay safely together
  • address challenges before they spiral out of control.

Challenges include:

  • family violence
  • unemployment
  • poor educational attainment
  • financial and housing stress
  • family conflict and separation
  • poorer mental health
  • inability to meet basic needs.

We also need to see significant cultural reforms. Given the over‑representation of Aboriginal children in out‑of‑home care, there is an urgent need for investment in effective early interventions that keep Aboriginal families safely together.

What the research says

The social and economic case for targeted early intervention is clear. 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.

Read the research.

And COVID-19 is only making things worse.

COVID-19 impacts on vulnerable families

Children and families who are already experiencing challenges are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

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 growth rates.

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

This is a crisis.

Learn more about the latest research.

Get involved

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

Together we can reimagine the future.

Support us by giving a one-off gift


Your donation can help give children a brighter future

Your donation can help provide safe homes

Your donation can help recruit and train foster carers

Your donation can help provide a safe home for children and young people

Support us by giving a monthly gift


Your donation can help fund Early Intervention programs to help prevent family violence before it starts

Your donation can help provide counselling to help children recover from experiencing violence and abuse

Your donation can help children ease back into their local school or attend the Berry Street school

Your donation can help provide a safe home for children and young people