FIGURES showing more than half of the south-west's child protection workers who quit last year had been in the job less than 12 months have exposed problems in the troubled sector.
The crisis gripping the state's child protection services is most evident on the frontline, with almost a quarter of the region's total workforce who help the most at-risk children leaving their jobs last year.
The Barwon South-West region, which extends from Geelong through to the South Australian border, had the highest turnover of new staff in regional Victoria, with 53 per cent of workers who left in 2009 staying for less than a year.
The Department of Human Services figures for Barwon South West also show that 32 per cent of staff left within six months of starting their job.
The figures were seized by the Opposition's community services spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge, who said they revealed systematic failures in the child protection system.
"As a result, thousands of neglected and abused children have not been allocated a case worker and instead of being protected may have actually been placed in further harm's way because of the Brumby Government's incompetence."
Community Services Minister Lisa Neville has defended its management of the sector, pointing to figures that show 84 more staff working in the child protection program at the end of June compared to the same time last year.