The mother of a five-year-old girl stabbed in Ballarat on Sunday says she is struggling to understand why anyone would hurt her child.
Samantha Hasting's daughter Madison was stabbed outside her apartment in Mitchell Park on Sunday.
A 23-year-old man is in custody being questioned by police.
In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Ms Hastings wrote: "Why would anyone hurt my baby girl".
Neighbours said that Ms Hastings moved into the block of apartments, about five kilometres from Ballarat city centre, about two or three months ago, with Madison and Madison's baby sister.
They live in an apartment opposite where the man police are talking to lives. The apartments are a low-cost residential facility on the site of a former Gold Sovereign Motor Inn.
Police said Madison's condition improved overnight and she was listed as stable.
The block consists of 23 apartments arranged in a horse-shoe shape around a playground.
Paramedics were called to the apartments just before 3pm on Sunday.
They found Madison with stab wounds to her abdomen and upper body outside the apartment complex.
The child was taken to the Ballarat Base Hospital in a critical condition.
Police said her condition improved overnight and she was listed as stable.
The man, who has cerebral palsy, lives at the same complex, but is not related to the young girl, police said.
Ross Ward lives across from the house where Madison Hastings was stabbed multiple times. Photo: SImon O'Dwyer
There were not many other residents around at the time of the attack and police have yet to reveal details of what led to it.
On Sunday, Senior Sergeant Neale Robinson said the girl had been stabbed with a "sharp-bladed instrument".
Police said it could be some time before the man in custody could be interviewed, "because of exceptional circumstances".
Ross Ward, who lives a few doors down from the suspect, said the man's condition made it difficult for him to grasp objects and he spent most of his time in a wheelchair.
"He can't even co-ordinate his phone, he drops it every few minutes when he's using it," Mr Ward said.
"We have no idea how he would be capable [of stabbing]."
Mr Ward said it was completely out-of-character for his neighbour.
"He's not an aggressive person at all. He's a very bubbly person," he said.
Mr Ward said he had spoken to Madison on Sunday morning.
"She's such a lovely, lovely girl. She's so fully of energy, she's so happy," he said.
He said the girl had moved in to the complex with her mother and baby sibling about two or three months ago. They lived in the apartment opposite the suspects and the two apartments were separated by a playground.
Another neighbour, Dave Cronin, said the suspect was not into drugs and would often drink in his apartment and did not cause any trouble.
Next door, Yvette Hodges said she and her partner had heard a scream of a young girl or woman at 2.30pm on Sunday.
Ms Hodges said the girl was a "gorgeous little girl" and "very friendly".
On Sunday police cordoned off the driveway to the whole Learmonth Road estate, while two separate apartments within the complex were also barricaded.
Officers were seen taking photographs of the area, which was littered with children's play equipment.
Late on Sunday evening, they were scouring a shared-use garden located in the middle of the complex, focusing on an area with a red, twisting children's slide on the left-hand side.
Mitchell Apartments, which is situated on a busy street, is owned by Catholic welfare provider Centacare.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she no longer felt safe letting her children play out the front of her house.
"I felt sick and shaken," she said.
"If it's the girl I think, I've seen her and her mum ride past our house and back again.
"It doesn't make you feel very safe."
Her husband said many residents in the area had not wanted Centacare to open the apartments.
"It was meant to be for short-term, low income people, but I don't think that's who's in there," he said.
"Put it this way, we've been broken into twice since the apartments were there. I can put two and two together."
Nearby residents voiced concern that the apartments might serve as cheap housing for parolees when Centacare applied to council for a permit in 2013.
At the time, local woman Mary Johnson said she hoped the area would not become home to parolees and "undesirables".
"If it's just low-income earners, then good on them," she said.
"But if it is for people who are coming out of prison ... the children [in the neighbourhood] won't be safe."
Bryce Hart said he would be concerned for his children's safety if the facility was turned into a temporary home for released prisoners.
Centacare project manager Geoff Wallace guaranteed, at the time, that the apartments would only be used as cheap housing.
Police urge any witnesses to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
With Patrick Hatch, Kim Quinlan and The Ballarat Courier