Child abuse and neglect can take place behind closed doors, so it is difficult to know how often it occurs. Data on child protection services does not necessarily give an accurate picture of how many children are being abused or neglected, but can provide insight into how often suspected child abuse and neglect is detected.
This report presents child protection data from March to September 2020 (covering the ‘first wave’ of COVID-19 restrictions for Australia, and part of the ‘second wave’ of restrictions for Victoria) with comparisons to the same period in 2019. For simplicity, this period is referred to throughout the report as ‘during COVID-19’ although it is recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Data prior to March 2020 are referred to as ‘pre-COVID-19’. Selected information is also presented on a number of risk factors for child abuse and neglect, including income and housing stress, parental mental health and substance use, and domestic violence.