Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection at UniSA, Professor Dorothy Scott says the child protection statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare are deeply concerning.
"An increase of 9.3 per cent of children in State care in the past year is alarming," Prof Scott said.
"We should not have over 34,000 children in care in Australia today. This is not the solution and it can sometimes cause further harm. Most states are still not investing enough in the fences at the top of the cliff to prevent child abuse and neglect."
Prof Scott says what is especially concerning is the number of very young children coming to the attention of child protection authorities.
"Few parents set out to harm their children," Prof Scott said.
"All families with an infant should have access to a child and family health nurse and struggling families should be quickly linked to services which can assist them. Schools can also be the best place from which services can reach out to many vulnerable families.
"The vast over representation of Aboriginal children in our child protection systems shows that this is indeed a national crisis, requiring bipartisan concerted long-term strategies, and not just in remote areas."
Prof Scott says in the past year there have been encouraging signs that governments are more willing to work together to tackle the problem of child maltreatment.
"The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children which the Council of Australian Governments approved in 2009, is a big step forward," she said.
"However, there is a long way to go in addressing the main causes of child abuse and neglect - domestic violence, parental substance dependence and mental health problems.
"Parental alcohol abuse is a central problem. Half of the children coming into State care have at least one parent with an alcohol problem and 13 per cent of Australian children live in a household with at least one adult who is regularly drunk.
"Governments can do a lot more to combat alcohol abuse and must be willing to take on vested interests such as the liquor industry. Families and communities must also accept responsibility to stop children being hurt by alcohol abuse."
Early family support and tackling alcohol abuse the key to reducing child abuse and neglect