Eight deaths and 178 abuse cases – including both adults and children – have been recorded among Victorians in care this year, the state government says.
Child Protection and Family Services data published this week recorded 427 major incidents between January 1 and March 31.
The report refers to adults and children in the family service and child protection system.
Most of the deaths are of children aged under two and include premature births, sudden infant death syndrome, car accidents and known medical conditions.
Cases of abuse can include physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse.
Opposition child protection spokesman Nick Wakeling said children are placed into protective care to prevent further abuse and neglect, but the harm continued for many of the state’s most vulnerable.
“The Andrews Labor Government must take urgent action so that children in care aren’t being subjected to further abuse and neglect,” he said in a statement.
Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said all criminal allegations are immediately referred to police.
“We take any allegation of assault or violence for adult and child family service clients extremely seriously,” he said.
“Keeping Victorian families and children safe from harm and providing them with the support they need is our top priority.”
The figures are slightly below the 430 major incidents in the previous three- month period, and a significant jump on the 185 major incidents recorded from July 1 to September 30 last year.
Mr Donnellan said the latest data could not be compared to reports prior to October 2018 due to changes in how incidents are recorded.
The Department of Health and Human Services requires all abuse or harm allegations be reported to the department within 24 hours.
The Commission for Children and Young People reviews all services provided to children known to child protection in the year before their death.
CHILD PROTECTION AND FAMILY SERVICES REPORTING, JAN TO APR 2019:
* Deaths: 8
* Abuse: 178
* Behaviour: 88
* Other incidents: 153
* Total incidents: 427
(SOURCE: Department of Health and Human Services)
Australian Associated Press