A national comparison of child protection programs has criticised stateand federal governments for their slow response to an increase in childabuse cases.
The National Research Centre for the Prevention of Child Abuse atMonash University has found serious problems with child protection inall states and territories.
Centre director Chris Goddard says the Federal Government needs toprovide leadership on the issue with national early interventioncampaigns.
"It is a catastrophic problem to have so many referrals, every year, so many re-referrals, so many children," he said.
"The number of children living out of home care for example is increasing year by year."
The report has also found while the number of reported child abusecases has doubled nationally in the past five years, the number offoster carers is dropping.
It also raised concern about Victoria's plan for a system where thepublic can report child abuse to both community and government bodies.
Monash University senior research fellow Dr Max Liddell says welfaregroups should not be forced to become defacto child protectionagencies.
"It's likely to make people nervous about approaching them for supportbecause they are going to be seen as indistinguishable from thestate-run child protection system," he said.
"So that's also a source of confusion that we would worry about."